Water Valley Watermelon Carnival Offers Something For Everyone

The Water Valley Watermelon Festival. Photos courtesy of the Water Valley Chamber of Commerce P.R department.

Water Valley will soon be flooded with locals and visitors alike enjoying the festivities at the 48th annual Watermelon Carnival. While the beloved fruit is the theme of the two-day party, the event has much more to offer attendants with food, music and family fun.

“This is a great place for families because we have something for everyone,” Linda White, Water Valley Chamber of Commerce Public Relations Officer, said. “Everyone has their own favorite event. That is why we have things for all ages groups.” 

The Event will kick-off Friday, Aug. 4, at 6:00 p.m. at the gazebo in the City Park. The ceremony will start with an opening invocation by Keith Burney, a welcoming speech by Mayor Larry Hart and a singing of the “National Anthem” by Anita McGehee. The 2017 Watermelon Queen, Anna Katherine Burress, and her court will also be crowned. 

Anna Katerine Burress will be crowned the 2017 Watermelon Queen at the opening ceremony.

 At 8:00 p.m., the streets will come alive with the annual street dance in the middle of Central Street. This year the Oxford All-Stars will be performing during the dance. At 9:00 p.m. in the City Park, a fireworks spectacular will begin. 

On Saturday, Aug. 5, things will start early with the 30th annual 3k walk/run at the Casey Jones Railroad Museum, which is free to participants. The annual antique car display will then begin at 8:00 a.m. and will run through 4:30 p.m. at Shuffield Park. This event is also free to viewers. 

Things will really heat up Saturday during the 8th annual Train Track Pork Attack Barbecue Cooking Contest hosted behind Renascent Bank. This year’s contest will feature well-known barbecue teams such as Victory Lain, Poker Porker and Dead Hog Walking competing for a $1,500 cash prize.

Many big name barbeque teams will be stationed to compete for a $1,500 reward.

Festival goers can help taste test and vote on a winner of the competition if they purchase a ticket. Tickets will cost $10 each and testing will last from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The winner will be announced at 5:15 p.m. at the gazebo. 

“We have a great forecast with a high of 87, which will make this year the best ever for outside barbecue in August,” Tonya Eubanks, volunteer chairman of the T.T.P.A. BBQ cooking contest, said. “This event usually brings out a lot of people and we have a lot of big name barbecue teams coming this year.” 

The Train Track Pork Attack Barbecue Cooking Contest will start on Saturday, Aug. 5.

Other events that will be hosted on Saturday will be a sidewalk chalk art station, the largest water melon judging completion and various free watermelon games. A pet parade and costume contest will also be happening Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at the gazebo. An air conditioned trolley will be stationed in the southwest corner of the park and will be making runs every 10 to 15 minutes free of charge. 

Serval live musical acts will be performing in the city park gazebo on Saturday. Entertainers who will be performing this year include Tome Foolery, Kate Keeley, the DeSoto Boomers, Tanner Mills, Eric Deaton and Sounds of Tyme. 

The Oxford All-Stars will be playing during the annual street dance this year starting at 8:00 p.m., Aug. 4.

There will also be serval food trucks and craft vendors stationed around the park selling everything from bird houses to jewelry. There are also usually plenty of watermelon vendors selling their fruit at the festival it was named after. 

“It brings everyone together, as well as people from the surrounding communities, and the kids really enjoy a big event before heading back to school,” Chelsey Bratton, Water Valley resident, said. 

Read below for a brief history of the carnival courtesy of The Water Valley Chamber of Commerce:

The Watermelon Carnival is Water Valley’s most prized annual celebration.  An estimated 20,000 people attend the various events, always set the first weekend in August. The carnival is named among the top 20 festivals in the southeastern United States by the Southeastern Tourism Society.

The first carnival was held on Thursday, August 27, 1931. At that time, the entire nation was in the grip of the depression. In Water Valley, a bank had failed, the railroad had pulled out, and unemployment was high. Local businessmen were concerned about the spirit of the townspeople, so they decided to host a carnival to boost morale.

The Watermelon Carnival consisted of a parade, a pageant to name the carnival queen, and a formal ball. Festivities were repeated for nine consecutive years, and then halted with the outbreak of World War II. The Watermelon Carnival lay in dormancy until 1980.

Allen Brewer is an intern for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at agbrewer@go.olemiss.edu

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  1. What’s wrong with this article watermelon Fest in Water Valley no time of when the bands are playing no time to said the band was playing on a Friday night and that they started at 8 and stopped at 10 last year they stopped at 11 the information here is inconsistent and doesn’t give you times of when things are happening just an iffy iffy iffy I’ll come and see in figure it out whenever anything will be happening it would be nice to know a time of when certain bands are playing not just a bunch of names of bands and you don’t know which one is playing when

  2. Susan, thank you for your comments. We are always looking for ways to improve things for our Watermelon Carnival visitors. I am sorry you were unable to locate a Carnival Schedule. We did attempt to get the word out in several different ways. The entire schedule (including events and times) was published in the last two editions of Southern Shopper, the July 12 to July 26th issue AND the July 26 to Aug 9th issue, on pull-out pages that could be brought with you to the Carnival. Several mentions were made on various radio stations about our events, but we could not list those individually on the short radio spots. However, many of those stations did announce that more information (including our complete schedule) was available on the Water Valley Area Chamber of Commerce FaceBook page AND on the Chamber’s web page, watervalleychamber.info. Our commercials on WTVA, Channel 9, as well as MaxxSouth Broadband, also included similar announcements. An enlarged copy of the schedule was placed on a standing A-board in City Park, just south of the Gazebo and right in front of the Chamber’s booth. People were encouraged to take photos of this larger copy and keep them on hand for listings on both Friday & Saturday. And finally, the complete schedule was listed on the inside cover of our Carnival program booklets, available at the Chamber of Commerce booth. Thank you for coming this year, if you were able to make it. If not, we hope to see you next year! LEW