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Watermelon Festival underway

MURFREESBORO — Despite a wet start, the 2009 North Carolina Watermelon Festival here in Historic Murfreesboro got underway on Wednesday.

An afternoon rain gave way to clearing skies for the 5 p.m. opener, but another round of the “wet stuff” began to fall just after the 7 p.m. opening ceremony. That brief period of rain coupled with what appeared to be another thunderstorm brewing west of town led to the cancelation of the night’s featured musical act – the Craig Woolard Band.

“We felt bad for those who had showed up to hear the band, but the stage was wet and we didn’t feel comfortable from a safety standpoint to allow the band to play, given the fact of all the electrical cords on a wet stage and the threat of a thunderstorm on its way,” said Kay Mitchell Thomas, co-chair of the Watermelon Festival Committee.

As it turned out, the rain never came.

“Business picked-up after that over in the midway (amusement rides) area,” Thomas said. “It was so busy that the crowd wanted to stay after out 11 p.m. closing time.”

Thomas added that the MELON (Bingo) game did well as well as the annual Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce barbecue dinner.

“I thought the crowd was good, considering the weather,” she noted.

At the opening ceremony, the Festival Committee honored two of its own – Alan Harris of Conway and Brenda Watson of Severn. Harris was signaled out for his work on a new element at this year’s festival, a watermelon archway. Watson was praised for her hard work on organizing this year’s Watermelon Festival parade, scheduled for a 10 a.m. start on Saturday along Murfreesboro’s Main Street.

This year’s theme is “Where Hearts Meet.” Not only does the festival serve as a reunion for family and friends, event organizers have learned that new romances have been formed when couples met at the festival. The schedule for the remaining three days of the festival is as follows:

Thursday is “Thanks to Our Virginia Friends Night.” The Sliver Street Band (8 p.m.) is the featured musical entertainment on Thursday. That day’s agenda also features a fish dinner sponsored by the Murfreesboro Rotary Club (4:30-7:30 p.m.), another round of “Melon”; the Hot Cakes Band at 5 p.m. and amusement rides. Business really picks up on Friday where the crafts/antiques fair opens at 12 noon. Two bands will fill Friday’s air with music – The Revelers at 5 p.m. and the popular Johnny Dollar Band at 8 p.m. Jefcoat Museum will sponsor the day’s main meal – pork barbecue and fried chicken beginning at 4 p.m. The midway area opens at 6 p.m. Saturday is the festival’s biggest day – beginning at 7 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at Murfreesboro Baptist Church and ending with the Castaways Band performing from 8-11 p.m. on the main stage. In-between is the state’s largest agricultural parade (10 a.m. on Main Street), a 5K road race, the crowning of the 2009 Watermelon Princess, the selection of Little Mr. and Miss Farmer, watermelon eating and seed spitting contests, a Guitar Hero contest, amusement rides, a full afternoon/early evening line-up of entertainment (bands, clogging groups and solo artists) and a huge display of fireworks (9:15 p.m.) For those looking to satisfy their hunger pains, a food court, featuring a wide range of goodies, will be open each day. Also, be sure to visit the main tent where free slices of delicious, homegrown watermelons will be served.