Juicy fruit salute

Published 12:22 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MURFREESBORO – Wednesday evening kicks off the 32nd annual North Carolina Watermelon Festival, a tradition in the town of Murfreesboro that draws in both locals and visitors for a variety of food and fun. The event will run through Saturday, Aug 5.

Kay Thomas, chairman of the committee which puts together the celebration each year, said that there were a lot of opportunities to look forward to this year.

“Even though it’s the 32nd year of the festival, we still have new events this year,” she said.

New attractions include tethered hot air balloon rides (on Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for $15), a super tent in the craft area to spotlight local crafts, and a miniature animal petting zoo with pony rides (Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. for free).

“We’re excited Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital is sponsoring an area called the Show Place,” Thomas added, explaining that the new area will have a focus on healthy living.

One of America’s most popular fruits will certainly please the palate at the Watermelon Festival in Murfreesboro.

The Show Place will be open on Friday and Saturday and will include a multitude of educational events, prizes, and “first come, first serve” food samples.

The midway rides are always a big attraction, especially for children and teenagers. In regards to safety concerns after the recent accident at a fair in Ohio, Thomas emphasized the safety of the Cole Amusement Rides that will be at the festival. She spoke to the owner, R.C. Cole, recently and said he assured her of the safety of the rides which are always thoroughly inspected. There will not be a ride at the Watermelon Festival like the one involved in the Ohio accident.

“They’ve been with us a long time, maybe 20 plus years,” Thomas said of Cole Amusements.

Wednesday and Thursday nights will be “Family Night” where wrist bands for the rides will be available for $22. The midway will be open from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Another highlight of the festival will be a different band performance nightly beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday’s performer will be Band of Oz (with DJ Jay Jenkins of Shaggin’ on the Beach). Thursday will feature Backyard Groove, while Friday will have a performance by Steve Owens and the Summertime Band. The event will be capped off on Saturday by Pizazz Band.

Different local organizations will sponsor meals throughout the festival. The Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce Steamed Shrimp Dinner will be on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Murfreesboro Rotary Club will sponsor a BBQ Ribs Dinner. Friday’s meal of BBQ/Fried Chicken is sponsored by the Jefcoat Museum. Each meal will be served from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday morning will feature a Pancake Breakfast sponsored by Murfreesboro Baptist Church from 7 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.

The food court at the Watermelon Festival will also provide an array of different foods to enjoy too.

Festival favorites such as Bingo (Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.), the 5k Run (Saturday at 10 a.m.), the Parade (Saturday at 10 a.m.), and Fireworks Show (Saturday at 9:15 p.m.) will return as usual.

“We’re looking forward to the festival,” said Murfreesboro Town Mayor John Hinton. “I think it’s good for the town economically, especially for our restaurants and businesses.”

Hinton added that the event also brings in new people to see the town. As mayor, Hinton will give a welcome on Wednesday evening at the festival.

Thomas said she appreciated all the help that the town has done in putting the annual event together once again.

“We invite everyone to come and have a great time,” said Thomas. “The volunteers on the committee have worked extremely hard on it this year.”

Thomas also added that the weather forecast looked pretty good too.

For more information, visit the website ncwatermelonfest.com or their Facebook page @ncwatermelonfest