2017 Watermelon Festival News
"Big Time" Music for 75th!
HAMPTON- There will be “Big Time” music for a “Big Time” Festival at this year’s 75th Annual Hampton County Watermelon Festival as the “Swingin’ Medallions” will be the headliner at the Festival Street Dance for 2017.
That’s right, the nine-member group, known as “The Party Band of the South”, will perform from 9:00pm until midnight on Festival Friday night.
“The Watermelon Festival Committee pulled out all the stops this year,” said Festival Chairman Robert Brown. “For our 75th anniversary the committee decided to bring you the best that we could buy. These gentlemen are known up and down the entire U.S. seaboard and are loved by all. They are fabulous entertainers and I think everyone in attendance will be pleased.”
In other Watermelon Festival music news, last year’s country band “Phun Pharm”, new to last the Street Dance, will be back again. Brown stated, “The country band last year was one of the best we have had in a while, so we decided to ask them back again. They were very versatile with their style of play and I saw more folks at the “Country” end of Lee Avenue last year than I have seen in a long time.”
Phun Pharm plays primarily in the Columbia metropolitan area and will also begin at 9:00pm on Friday night.
In other Festival news, the “Taste of Hampton County” will return to the Wade Hampton High School cafeteria. Last year it was moved to Hampton Elementary due to work being done at Wade Hampton. The “Taste” will start as it always does, at 7:00pm.
Becky Young and her sister Susan Vallotton have revived the Miss/Teen Miss Watermelon Festival Pageant. The pageant will take place on April 29th at 7:00pm at Open Arms Fellowship Church on Highway 601 North.
Next to last on the agenda......Mr. Hugh Gray has been asked to serve as the 2017 Parade Grand Marshal. Mr. Gray served from 1987-88 as Festival Chairman and again as Chairman from 1991-2003, a total of 15 years. That is by far the longest tenure for a Watermelon Festival Chairman!!! Gray has accepted the invitation.
Finally, the Festival Committee has decided to provide mobile bathrooms for the downtown area for 2017. The bathrooms will be set up on 1st Street on the lot next to the old Peeples-Rhoden Funeral Home across the street from Dale Ulmer’s Feed and Seed store on the empty lot. There are separate facilities for men and women. The Lowcountry Regional Water System is providing the funding for the rest rooms.
The next Watermelon Festival Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 4th at 7:00pm at the Hampton United Methodist Church social hall on Mulberry Street in Hampton.
New Festival Welcome Signs
Are Now In Place
HAMPTON- With the 75th Hampton County Watermelon Festival just around the corner, Festival Committee plans continue to move forward. One of the biggest projects taken on is the replacement of the old Festival signs that you see when entering the county. The old signs have been around for more than a decade and have begun to fall apart and lose their color. New signs have been purchased and are now spread throughout the county in their usual locations.
The new Festival signs are part of a “sprucing up” effort by the committee due to the high profile anniversary this year. “These signs have been around for years,” said Festival Chairman Robert Brown. “The replacement of the signs was one of our top priorities for this year. They will look great for all of our county residents and give them something to be proud of, while at the same time impressing all of our out-of-town visitors.”
Festival signs are located throughout the county. Some locations include Hwy 601S below Furman; in Yemassee near I-95; Hwy 278 coming from Fairfax; Hwy 601N at the county line; Hwy 63 at the county line; Hwy 321 coming out of Fairfax toward Estill. Stop by and check one of them out!
75th Festival taking shape
HAMPTON- The year is finally here!!! That’s right, the 75th Hampton County Watermelon Festival is a mere six months away and plans for the Diamond Jubilee (yes there is a type of watermelon called the Jubilee) are underway.
First things first. This year’s Festival theme is: “75 Years of Watermelon Fun” with this year’s dates being June 17th thru the 25th. The Festival Committee is already working on special additions and events for June. One of them may include involving lifelong Hampton County residents 75 years and older to participate in the parade. There may also be efforts to get all past Festival Chairmen and Miss Coastal Empire and Miss Hampton County Watermelon Festival Queens to participate as well.
Another 75th anniversary project is the replacement of all Festival signs that you see when entering the county. Not sure about a redesign yet, but no matter what, they will be beautiful. Cost on the signs are under negotiations with area sign companies.
Applications will soon be appearing on the Festival website at hcmelonfest.org in the near future. One new application will be for the Miss Hampton County Watermelon Festival pageant. Yes, the pageant will return this year as opposed to a selection process for our representative local ladies. Becky Young, along with her sister Susan Valloton, will be in charge of this endeavor, and I can assure you it will be a class production. Applications for the pageant will be available soon. Also applications for food and Arts & Crafts vendors and the parade will be available in the next few weeks. All other applications will be available on the website as soon as they are received.
One of the biggest events during the Festival is the Street Dance and William Koger has promised to bring on some big-time talent. We still don’t know who it will be, but as soon as we know, you will know. The Festival will probably go back to having a third band for the teen crowd. This was terribly missed last year but with the construction on Lee Avenue in 2016 the opportunity just wasn’t there.
Another possible addition for June isn’t as glamorous or fun as the rest of the Festival but still may be something you will appreciate. This new addition would be the renting of portable, air conditioned restrooms as opposed to port-o-johns. If this happens they will be centrally located to the downtown area to accommodate for the entire Festival Weekend.
That’s about as much news as we have for you right now about this year but there is some info from last year. The Festival did make a profit last year. The return of the carnival was a big help with that. Also the Festival made their “give back to the community” to both Palmetto Electric and S.C.E. & G. The money donated went primarily toward furnishing meals for all the linemen that took part in the Hurricane Matthew disaster. All linemen were also give Festival t-shirts.
Finally, let me stress how important this year’s Festival is to Hampton County. The need for volunteers is always there and even more son this year. Each year the Festival Committee gets smaller and smaller and that needs to change. Most events are easy to run and take very little time when you look at the big picture. If you are interested in helping with a committee or even running a committee please contact a Festival Committee member or come to our next meeting which is scheduled for the first Thursday each month. We meet at the Hampton Methodist Church social hall on Mulberry St. in Hampton at 7:00pm. Please join us in helping to make this Festival the best one ever.