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NC Watermelon Festival returns!!

MURFREESBORO – It’s back!!

Following a one-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Carolina Watermelon Festival returns to Murfreesboro. The 2021 event, now in its 36th year, will be held Aug. 4-7.

“We’re so excited to share this wonderful news that the Watermelon Festival is back in historic Murfreesboro,” said Kay Thomas, co-chair of the event’s planning committee who met Tuesday night and made the decision to move forward in holding the 2021 festival.

“This festival is so important to our community,” Thomas added. “It broke our hearts last year when we made the decision to cancel the festival, but it was the right decision to make at that time. Still it was sad to think about the missed opportunity to gather to socialize and have fun…seeing the kids riding the rides and the adults dancing in the street. That will now return and it warms my heart to have a chance to hear all the laughter and see all the smiles once again.”

Thomas confirmed that the amusement rides are returning as well (Cole Amusements will once again serve as that vendor), as will the Watermelon Festival Parade (10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7, hosted by the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce). The popular Watermelon Festival Princess contest as well as contests for Little Mr. Farmer and Little Miss Farmer will also return to list of traditional activities.

“We will even hold a Princess contest on Friday,” Thomas noted. “This will be for six-year-old little girls who missed out last year. Our Saturday contest for the Festival Princess will be for five-year-olds.”

Thomas said the committee is working this week to get letters in the mail for arts/craft and food vendors.

“Those applications will also be available to download from our website (www.ncwatermelonfest.com),” she noted.

“We’re also reaching out to our local organizations who in the past have sold meals in conjunction with the festival,” Thomas said. “As of right now, the Chamber [of Commerce] has committed to offer a meal. Even if we don’t have the same number doing so this year, we encourage those attending the festival to dine at any one of our fine establishments on Main Street. They offer a wide variety of delicious food.”

Among the festival’s traditional “drawing cards” is the nightly musical entertainment on the Broad Street stage. Thomas said once the committee approved holding this year’s event, she was on the phone the very next morning trying to schedule bands.

“I called our booking agent and within 10 minutes had three bands scheduled to come to Murfreesboro,” she stated.

The Main Event Band will kick-off the nightly entertainment on Wednesday, Aug. 4. North Tower will perform on Friday night (Aug. 6) and Pizazz will close out the festival on Saturday night (Aug. 7).

“I’ve been in contact with a couple of local bands who are willing to perform on Thursday night (Aug. 5),” Thomas said. “More details about that will come very soon.”

Despite North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper now allowing large gatherings such as the Watermelon Festival to take place, Thomas said the committee still has concerns about health safety.

“Because of that we will not hold the watermelon eating and seed spitting contests this year,” she stressed. “We will also change the way we serve the free slices of watermelon during all four days. Plus we’re looking at some other health safety protocols to put in place.”

One of those, she said, is possibly partnering with local health officials to offer COVID-19 vaccines at the festival.

“The biggest dilemma we face right now is not having a lot of time to put this all together; we’ve got to do about 12 months of work in two months. Plus we are in need of volunteers to help during all four days of the festival,” Thomas said.

Those wishing to volunteer can call 252-398-7695.

“Please help us make sure that the 2021 North Carolina Watermelon Festival is the best ever. We definitely need something like this after the past 14 months that we’ve all endured,” Thomas concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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