Save our Melons!

Published 6:19 pm Sunday, April 26, 2015

We were there in 1985 when she was born…breathing life for the very first time, surrounded by a few hundred other people wondering what all the hoopla was about on the lawn of the Roberts Vaughan Village Center in downtown Murfreesboro.

We were there when she took her first baby steps at age one…then proudly watched her grow and mature even more through the ensuing years, blossoming into a beautiful teen and finally a beloved and well-respected woman, eventually gracing us with her presence over a four-day span as the calendar changed from late July to early August.

She has brought us joy and laughter. She has kept us thoroughly entertained, whether through a thrill ride on her expansive midway, or allowing us to enjoy another great band and shag the night away in front of the main stage on Broad Street.

She has crowned champions in several contests…a few of the old-timers still claim to possess those certificates of merit.

She made sure our stomachs were full and our thirst quenched….offering up a wide variety of food and drink. And she even gave us free helpings of her sweet treat.

She reached out and assisted local non-profit entities by allowing them to conduct fundraisers, giving them the opportunity to generate money to further their quest to make Murfreesboro and surrounding communities a better place to live.

She was the North Carolina Watermelon Festival….an annual tradition that coincided with the local harvest of this popular southern fruit.

We, liked tens of thousands of others that enjoy this mid-summer classic, were stunned over the news that broke on Tuesday of this week – the 2015 event is canceled. It appears the Festival has fallen victim to financial woes…. from within its own planning committee and the Town of Murfreesboro.

To date, no one has stepped forward and took the lead to save this grand lady. That fact changes….now!

Roanoke-Chowan Publications – publishers of the News-Herald, Gates County Index, The Shopper, Front Porch Living magazine and – is proudly stepping forward and waving the Watermelon Festival flag. We’re going to run it up the flagpole and encourage others to help us salute it in an effort to save this event that has transformed over the years into the local area’s biggest social event.

We want to see the broad smiles on children’s faces and hear their laughter when they take a spin on one of the midway rides.

We want to smell the tantalizing aroma of pit-fired burgers, a foot long hot dog with all the trimmings, cotton candy, steamed shrimp, and the like. We want a hot fudge cake and we’ll wash it down with an old-fashioned hand-squeezed lemonade.

We want to see and feel the sense of accomplishment and self esteem when a line of five-year-old girls, dressed in their Sunday best, pass in front of the judges as they vie for the Little Princess title.

We want to watch the state’s largest agriculture parade as it makes its way down Main Street.

We want to shop for unique items among row after row of vendors.

We want to meet the 2015 North Carolina Watermelon Queen and her entourage when they visit Murfreesboro.

We want to see Festival go’ers patronizing businesses in Murfreesboro, providing them with an economic boost.

We want to save this Festival and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is.

R-C Publications will contribute $1,000 to the Festival’s planning committee. We’re asking other local businesses or individuals to follow suit and we will salute each and every one making a significant contribution by publishing a list of those, like us, who think this event is important to the heartbeat of Murfreesboro, Hertford County and the entire Roanoke-Chowan area.

Roughly $15,000 to $20,000 is required to make this happen, but we need to act fast in order to allow the committee to lock in the dates for the bands, amusement rides and vendors.

We welcome further discussion on this issue. Call 252-332-7207 or email

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald