Melon Fest Committee preps for big event

Published 10:21 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

MURFREESBORO – Gathered Tuesday night at Walter’s Grill in Murfreesboro, the leadership of the 2009 North Carolina Watermelon Festival reviewed action by the festival’s 18-or-so committees in preparation for the festival, July 29-Aug. 1.

Treasurer Brenda Watson told the group the festival lost one major sponsor this year due to the economy, but had gained at least five new ones, including Southampton Hospital, Edward D. Jones and the Mike Duman automobile dealership, all in Franklin, Commercial RediMix and the Farm Bureau.

Expenses for the festival, Watson said, “are just about like last year,” so “we should be able to carry on the festival with no problem.”

Festival Chairman Lynnette Bunch commended Watson’s work to secure tax exempt status for the festival. “I’m very proud of that,” Bunch told the group.

Alan Harris, chairman of the Craft/Collectibles Committee, told the group the festival entrance arch, which will look like a 10-foot wide, 12-foot tall watermelon slice, is nearly complete. He said 19 new participants have signed up for crafts and collectibles booths and 11 spaces are still available.

Lorrie Barnes, who chairs the Food Committee, reported the festival already has more applicants than there are spaces available.

Kay Thomas, who, with Bunch, chairs the Entertainment Committee, distributed copies of the 2009 festival poster, then reviewed the entertainment listed on it. Bands listed include:

July 29 – Island Boy at 5 p.m.; Craig Woolard Band at 8 p.m.

July 30 – Hot Cakes Band at 5 p.m.; Silver Street at 8 p.m.

July 31 – The Revelers at 5 p.m.; Johnny Dollar Band at 8 p.m.

Aug. 1 – Cross Cutt Band at 5 p.m.; The Castaways at 8 p.m.

Murfreesboro Police Chief Darrell Rowe reported on security for the festival, saying that the Town “keeps 15 to 17 officers out there all the time” and the festival itself hires four off-duty officers. Harris spoke of the importance of the work of the officers and said, “We need to pay them well.”

Gene Byrd, who chairs the committee overseeing “set up/clean-up/parking,” was not at the meeting, but Thomas remarked on the “excellent job” done by that group. “This is the cleanest festival I’ve ever been to,” she said.

Absent because she was at a meeting in Raleigh was Murfreesboro Town Administrator Cathy Davison, who chairs the festival’s Fireworks Committee. Thomas reported that the fireworks – set for Saturday, Aug. 1, at 9:15 p.m. – will be produced by an internationally recognized pyrotechnics firm.

Bunch, who chairs the Little Princess contest said only two of the 10 entry slots available remain, but Debbie Edwards said only two boys and two girls so far have signed up for the Little Miss Farmer/Mr. Farmer competition.

Suzi Brown, who with Jennifer Mitchell chairs the festival’s T-Shirts Committee, said the shirts are currently on sale at the Roberts Vaughan Village Center. A number of those at the meeting, however, agreed to take t-shirts and make them available at area retailers and service outlets.

The Rev. Lee Canipe, who chairs the festival’s 5K Run, was not present, but had left a handout that was distributed to those attending the meeting. The run will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1. The course will close at 11 a.m. The run is open to ages 12 and up and awards will be given to male and female finishers in several age categories. Official race shirts are guaranteed to the first 100 participants to register. Entry forms can be downloaded at

Debbie Cobb, who chairs the Stage Decorations Committee, reported that work is under way.

Thomas, who chairs the Amusements and Rides Committee, said Cole Amusements of Virginia will be providing those festival staples and will bring two new rides as well as others popular in previous festivals.

Other reports and those presenting them included: Byron Simonds, Watermelon Contests; Daily Schedule/Watermelon Serving, Lynette Bunch; Publicity, Kay Thomas; and Friends of the Watermelon Festival, Brenda Watson.

At the conclusion of the meeting, festival leaders ate cake and ice cream. The cake, which was decorated with the 2009 festival’s logo, was baked and decorated by Lorrie Barnes.

Bunch said the 2009 logo and theme – “Where Hearts Meet” – came about because festival leaders “kept hearing about people who met at the festival.”

As is traditional, the logo incorporates the festival’s mascot, Percy the Ant.

And, said Bunch, the logo always incorporates a tiny date, this year “09” just below the “L” in “Festival.”