Sweet Treat: Melon Fest opens today

Published 5:37 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2022

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MURFREESBORO – As the calendar flips to August, the annual pilgrimage to Murfreesboro begins.

The 37th annual North Carolina Watermelon Festival begins today (Wednesday) in the historic Hertford County town. That salute to the sweet treat grown within the fertile soil locally continues through Saturday, Aug. 6.

This festive, four-day event features something for all ages. Along with the traditionally huge agricultural parade, there will be fireworks, watermelon eating and seed spitting contests, Little Princess Contest, Little Mr. and Miss Farmer Contest, a food fair, craft show, 5K race, nightly plate dinners, nightly entertainment, and amusement rides for the young and the young at heart.

Free slices of watermelon are offered daily.

“We’re just waiting for Wednesday to get here,” said Kay Thomas, chair of the Watermelon Festival Committee. “We’re excited to host this great festival once again. Please come and experience all that the Watermelon Festival and the town of Murfreesboro have to offer. It’s time to celebrate family and friends.”

The 2022 event will pay tribute to one of its founding fathers. Percy Bunch and his wife, Lynette, helped to organize the very first Watermelon Festival in 1986 and was a mainstay at every event since that time. Mr. Bunch, who was President to the National Watermelon Association and was instrumental in founding the NC Watermelon Association, serving several terms as President, passed away on July 20 at his home in Murfreesboro.

“Percy Bunch was ‘Mr. Watermelon’,” Thomas said. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without his vision and his leadership.”

Thomas said that this year’s event will feature the unveiling of a sign in honor of Percy Bunch. That unveiling is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The festival’s Midway features numerous thrilling rides and games. Wednesday and Thursday are Family Nights. Wristbands ($25 each) will allow for unlimited rides.

Admission to the festival is free on Wednesday and Thursday. There is a $5 admission fee for adults (ages 18-and-over) on Friday and Saturday. Wristbands will allow festival patrons to come and go after paying for admission. Children (under age 18) are admitted free on those days.

“The reason for the admission fee on Friday and Saturday is to pay for the security at the festival,” Thomas explained. “We’ll have 30 officers providing security inside and outside the festival grounds. We have to pay for that, not the town of Murfreesboro. We want everyone to come in and feel safe and have a great time.”

In addition to the traditional features, the Watermelon Festival will feature the following bands nightly on the Broad Street stage:

Wednesday, Aug 3 – The Band of Oz (7 pm), Jay Jenkins, WDLZ-FM, as the emcee;

Thursday, Aug. 4 – Martin Terry Band (6:30 pm), Scott Parker as the emcee; and New Band on the Block, featuring Deion Warren (8:15 pm);

Friday, Aug. 5 – Skosh (5 pm); Smokin’ Hot, featuring Gary Lowder (7 pm); and

Saturday, Aug. 6 – Vintage Cross: Church at the Crossroads (3 pm); Laura Davis (4:30 pm); and Pizazz, featuring Kent Zimermann (7 pm).

The fireworks show is slated for around 9:15 p.m. on Saturday.

The festival’s food court opens at 6 pm on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and at 10 am on Saturday.

Additionally, the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce Shrimp Dinner is from 4:30-7 p.m. on Wednesday; the Murfreesboro Rotary Club’s BBQ Rib Dinner is from 4:30-7 p.m. on Thursday; the Murfreesboro Baptist Church Pancake and Sausage Breakfast is from 8-10 a.m. on Saturday; and the Murfreesboro Historic Association’s annual sale of their famous hot fudge cakes topped with ice cream will be held on all four days of the festival.

The Festival Market (arts/crafts vendors) opens at 12 noon on Friday and 10 am on Saturday.

Bingo games will be played at 7 pm on Thursday and Friday inside the Murfree Center (the building located behind the Broad Street stage).

A 5K race (run or walk) sponsored by the Murfreesboro Rotary Club will lead-off Saturday morning’s Festival Parade (10 a.m.)

A Car Show will take place following Saturday’s parade with antique cars, hot rods, motorcycles, and trucks.

Watermelon eating and seed spitting contests are scheduled to get underway at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Emma New, the 2022 North Carolina Watermelon Queen, will visit the festival on both Friday and Saturday. She will preside over the crowning of the Festival’s Little Princess on Saturday morning following the parade.

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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