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WATER VALLEY – It’s that time of the year again. For the 52nd time in the city’s history, the watermelon will be celebrated. Thousands will gather at City Park and all around town to participate in activities that range from a walk/run to family gatherings and reunions – all set to a musical beat provided by day-long entertainment Saturday from the park gazebo.
Vendors will start setting up late Thursday and Friday morning, providing plenty of arts and crafts and a wide range of festival and carnival-style food items to tempt the taste buds. The action officially gets underway at the gazebo Friday night at 6 p.m. with opening ceremonies. Water Valley Mayor Donald Gray will welcome carnival attendees, Layla Hill will sing the National Anthem and the watermelon royalty will be introduced. The street dance starts at 7 p.m. and runs until 11 p.m., with the Mechanics Bank fireworks show in between.
Saturday morning activities start early with the 34th annual 3K run/walk at 7:30. The 26th annual Shuffield car show starts at 8 a.m. The air conditioned trolley begins its runs between City Park and downtown at 10 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m., allowing visitors to get a taste of downtown shops, boutiques and restaurants. At 11 a.m. the watermelon games begin in City Park, followed by the Largest Watermelon Contest at noon. Ice cold watermelon slices will be served at the southwest end of the park beginning at 1 p.m.
Competition in the Train Tracks Pork Attack Barbecue Cooking Contest will heat up Saturday as competitors from across the Southeast set up behind Renasant Bank. Tonya Eubanks reported there are 34 teams competing this year including 10 teams signed up for the Taster’s Choice category.
Water Valley Police Chief Jason Mangrum reported there will be additional officers working during the carnival weekend. The increased presence includes city officers who will work extra shifts, and officers from neighboring departments hired by the city for the carnival.
“There will be a large presence in and around the Street Dance Friday night,” Mangrum told the Herald. The extra security includes officers assigned to the park all night Friday to protect the vendors’ booths and the barbecue crews’ setups behind Renasant Bank. The chief added that helping take care of the barbecue crews is the highlight of the weekend.
“The cooking teams take very good care of our officers,” Mangrum added with a smile. “We are hoping it doesn’t rain and it is not 100 degrees.”