Watermelon Carnival returns
Published 12:00 pm Thursday, August 4, 2016
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, Aug. 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.
Today the Watermelon Carnival is a full-fledged weekend celebration. For many people, it’s a time for coming home to be with family and to enjoy reunions with school classmates.
Each year’s carnival is kicked off by a Thursday evening music festival at the Civic Auditorium sponsored by the Town & Country Garden Club.
On Friday, a Street Dance with a fireworks display draws crowds to City Park.
Saturday is full of continuous entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts booths, contests, parades, an antique car show, a 3-K run and much more.
The Watermelon Queen and her court will be presented in the City Park gazebo, and prizes will be awarded for the biggest watermelon.
Kids of all ages will enjoy competing in the Watermelon Games: Seed-Spitting, Melon Eating, and Throwing real melons are always fun events. Plus free ice-cold watermelon is served, a welcome activity that’s guaranteed to beat the heat.
For a complete listing of events and times, visit the Water Valley Chamber of Commerce website at www.watervalleychamber.info.