By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – It’s time again to get those juices flowing. Watermelon juice that is.
The 2008 Watermelon Carnival is only one week away and plans are being finalized for the 29th annual event, according to Chamber of Commerce officials.
The festivities kick off with the Watermelon Carnival Music Festival, sponsored by the Town and Country Garden Club, on Thursday, July 31, at the Civic Auditorium. Kimberly Morgan, 2007 Miss Mississippi, will be a featured performer.
The Sharecroppers, will play from 7 until 7:30 p.m. when the Festival will begin. Also included on the night’s program will be entertainment by local talent, and the presentation of the Watermelon Queen.
On Friday, Aug. 1, the Chamber of Commerce and Junior Auxiliary will have booths downtown to provide information to visitors and exhibitors. They will also be offering T-shirts, hats and carnival program books.
Also downtown, the Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum will be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to take visitors on a sentimental journey through the area’s rich railroad history.
Moving on up Main St. to the City Park, there will be musical performances by Brad VanWinkle and Thompson-Ward Light staring at 4 p.m. before opening ceremonies at 6 p.m.
The official opening of the carnival begins with a welcome by Mayor Bill Norris, the invocation, singing of the National Anthem, and the introduction of the Watermelon Court.
Later, Braden Gray will play for the street dance sponsored by Renasant Bank kicking off at 8 p.m. If you aren’t in a dancing mood, there’s always bingo at the VFW on Hwy 315 beginning at 7:00.
Everybody up and at ’em early for the 8 a.m. start of the Run/Walk sponsored by Mechanics Bank. This year’s theme is “Running on Empty” and there is no entry fee. The first 200 finishers will get T-shirts and caps.
Entertainment will also begin early at the gazebo in City Park with Promise scheduled for 8 a.m. Several artists will appear leading up to the largest watermelon contest at noon.
Mechanics Bank will again be providing free melon starting at 1 p.m. You might want to save your seeds for the seed spitting contest also at 1 p.m. followed by the watermelon-eating contest at 1:15 p.m.
Along with the food and fun, there is plenty of vendors offering a variety of merchandise for sale. After spending your limit, you can walk across North Court St. for the North Mississippi Regional Art Exhibit at Remedial Specialists.
To avoid the traffic, carnival goers can use the shuttle that will run between the City Park and downtown from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Among the downtown attractions Saturday will be the 13th annual car display at Shuffield Park. Also, the Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum will be open from 10: a.m. until 5 p.m.