WATER VALLEY – It’s that time again. The 2009 Watermelon Carnival is only a week away and plans are being finalized by the 30th annual event, according to Chamber of Commerce officials.
The festivities kick off with the Watermelon Carnival Music Festival, on Thursday, July 30, at the Civic Auditorium sponsored by the Town and Country Garden Club.
The Sharecroppers, will play beginning at 7 p.m. with the other acts following. Also included on the night’s program will be entertainment by local talent, and the presentation of the Watermelon Queen.
The Chamber of Commerce and Junior Auxiliary will have booths at the City Park to provide information to visitors and exhibitors beginning Friday morning.
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.
Back at City Park, the band Tomfoolery will play starting at 4 p.m. and going until opening ceremonies at 6 p.m..
The official opening of the carnival begins with a welcome by Mayor Larry Hart, the invocation, singing of the National Anthem, and the introduction of the Watermelon Court.
Later, Busted Screen Door will play a mix of music beginning at 8 p.m. for the street dance sponsored by Renasant Bank. There will be free lemonade available in front of the bank, according to Bill Taylor, community bank president.
The band will take a break about 9 p.m. and there will be a fireworks show.
Final planning is also underway for Mechanic Bank’s 22nd annual Watermelon Run, which kicks off on carnival Saturday at 8 p.m. This year’s event is dubbed, “Come On And Take A Free Ride,” and for the second year the entry fee has been waived.
Competitors can sign up on race day at the bandstand prior to the 8 a.m. start. Mechanics Bank will provide free t-shirts and refreshments to the first 200 finishers, according to event organizer and bank employee Keith River, who noted that the number of contestants has remained steady in recent years.
“Last year we had about 180 participants,” River said. This year, walkers will travel a longer distance, with 1.1 miles to the course, a change that allows walkers to travel the same distance as runners have in the past.
“Both our runners and walkers will travel five kilometers, a move that will help eliminate congestion on the course,” River said.
River also reminded everyone of the Lions’ pancake breakfast, which is also held the same morning and typically attracts large crowds.
If you want to do your walking around a golf course, there’s the O’Tuckalofa Open Golf Tournament beginning at 9 a.m. at the Yalobusha County Club. The tournament benefits the North Central Mississippi Service Center of the Red Cross which serves six counties including Yalobusha.
Entertainment will also begin early at the gazebo in City Park. Several artists will appear beginning at 8 a.m. and leading up to the largest watermelon contest at noon.
Along with the food and fun, there is plenty of vendors offering a variety of merchandise for sale. 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.
The Shuttle will make stops at Bozarts for the North Mississippi Regional Art Show and further downtown near the 14th annual car display at Shuffield Park and the Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum.
Town and Country Garden Club is pleased to announce that Dr. Glen Kitchens, Principal of Water Valley High School, will be the Master of Ceremonies for the 2009 Watermelon Music Festival. Dr. Kitchens was on the program as a vocalist last year. He is married to the former Missy Davis of Water Valley, who will be on the program as a vocalist this year. Among other local talent scheduled to appear will be Radiance of First Christian Church and a ballet group from Valley Dance Company.
Music by the Sharecroppers will begin at 7 p.m., with other acts following, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The Watermelon Music Festival, which starts off Watermelon Carnival Weekend, will be held on Thursday night, July 30, in the City Auditorium.
Tickets sell for $7 each and are available from any Town and Country Garden Club member, as well as at Turnage Drug Store and the Chamber of Commerce. Watch the Herald for more news about the upcoming Watermelon Music Festival.
The Watermelon Carnival will begin with the Thursday night Follies, (July 30, 2009), and be in full bloom, Saturday, August 1, 2009. Please help us by cleaning up your yards and properties. Place your debris at curbside so as not to block the street drainage system. Please bag any grass clippings that your mower may have blown into the street and place at curbside with other debris.
Let’s look sharp for this special occasion in our City. Call us if we can help. 473-2431.
Mayor Larry Hart