76th Hampton County

Watermelon Festival

June 15th - 24th, 2018
 2018 Festival Theme:


    Check out current Festival news below!
      2016 Hampton County Watermelon Festival Committee

       2017 Hampton Co. Watermelon Festival Queen
   2017 Hampton Co. Teen Watermelon Festival Queen
           Miss Jordan Steinmeyer                               Miss Kelly Farmer

 2017 Watermelon Festival "Belles" & Beaus"




   2017 Watermelon Festival News

   Past & Present Queens reception on 
            Festival Friday Afternoon
Posted 6.14.17          

HAMPTON- On the eve of the 75th Hampton County Watermelon Festival, the Festival Committee has come up with a new event to honor our homegrown beauties, both past and present.               
     On Friday afternoon, June 23rd, Alice Hazel and her family in Brunson will host a Queens Reception for both current and past Festival Queens. The event will be gin at 5:00pm at the home of Alice Hazel at 425 N. Railroad Avenue in Brunson. The reception will last until 7:00pm. The reception is a private event and will include former Miss Coastal Empire and Miss Coastal Empire Teen Queens. Also invited are current and past Miss Hampton County Watermelon Festival and Miss Hampton County Watermelon Festival Teen Queens. Other Queens being extended invitations are all current and past Town Queens from throughout the Festival's history.   
Any past and current Queens that plan to attend are welcome to appear in their crowns and sashes from their respective years as representatives of our wonderful Festival. 

   New Event Added For 75th Fest

                  County 4-H & FFA to host Tractor Operating Contest

Posted 6.7.17            
Hampton- With the 75th Annual Hampton County Watermelon Festival just around the corner the Hampton County 4-H and FFA have stepped up and added a new event to this year's festivities. The event will be a Tractor Operating Contest that will be held on June 21st from 4:00pm until 9:00pm at the Clemson Extension Office next to their new location at 12 Walnut Street East in Hampton (the old Job Service Office). 
     The event is for youths from 9th to 12th grade and will include written tool and equipment identification tests , safety walk and driving contest. Winners will be offered the opportunity to represent Hampton County in the regional and state contests.There will be scholarships and prizes for the winners.
     For more information or to register for the event, please contact the Hampton County Clemson Extension Office at 803-943-3427 or Andrew Warner at
awarne2@clemson.edu or Dawn Stuckey at dstucke@clemson.edu or stop by the office during hours of operation.
    Applications on website for Decorated Business and Yard Contest
     Two old events that have nearly seen extinction in the last few years are trying to make a comeback. The "Decorated Business" and "Decorated Yard" contests are now under the direction of Hampton native Susan Peeples Vallotton, sister of Becky Young, both of "The Frock Shop" fame. Susan is has been taking applications for both contests for several weeks now and is encouraging all business owners and residents of Hampton County to take part in what she considers "an event that is what the Festival is all about."
     Applications are available at The Frock Shop or right here on the website. Just click on the applications tab at the top of the page and scroll down to the application and print. The deadline for applications is June 9th. The contest will be held on June 14th. Please participate.

     Bluegrass Night will feature         
            "Palmetto Blue"

Posted 5-4-17
HAMPTON- Every year, one of the most popular events at the Watermelon Festival is the Bluegrass Concert. Judging by the quality entertainment that has performed over the years and the fact that the venue is so spacious and air-conditioned, why shouldn't it be. Well this year is no exception as the 2017 Bluegrass Concert will feature the band "Palmetto Blue" of
     Since its formation in 2013, South Carolina Bluegrass Band PALMETTO BLUE
has quickly become the ambassador for bluegrass music in South Carolina. Their shows have taken them all over the Palmetto State and surrounding areas, where their performances have entertained audiences from all walks of life not only with their authentic brand of bluegrass music, but also with their stories of the history of the music as it was passed down to them from their mentors and tradition bearers before them. The band includes two members, vocalist Chris Boutwell and fiddler Ashley Carder, who have received South Carolina's Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which is presented annually by the South Carolina General Assembly to practitioners and advocates of traditional arts in the state. The band also includes banjoist Steve Willis, 18 year old bass player and singer Shellie Davis, and guitarist Ed Dalton, who have been playing music since their childhood and are all bluegrass music veterans in their own right. Palmetto Blue's busy schedule has taken them to many varied venues that include Myrtle Beach's Heart Walk, the 50th Annual National Convention of the US Special Forces and Green Berets, Hilton Head Island's Mayfest, Spring Island's "Arts on Spring" series, the SC State Fair, USC's FolkFabulous Festival, Columbia's St. Pat's in 5 Points Festival, Historic Brattonsville, SC State Museum, USC's McKissick Museum, EdVenture Childrens Museum, the Tasty Tomato Festival, the Forest Acres Festival, as well as many private parties, weddings, churches, schools, and most of the usual bluegrass venues throghout the state. Palmetto Blue loves to share their music tradition with everyone they meet. Whether it's a hard driving fiddle or banjo tune, an old mountain ballad, or the tight harmonies of Chris and Shellie, you're sure to find something you will enjoy in a Palmetto Blue show.
     Our band members are no strangers to the traditional music scene. In the 1970s, Chris Boutwell was the lead singer and guitarist for the band High Country, which was the premier west coast bluegrass band and recorded several LPs in the early 1970s on the Warner Brothers label. You will be challenged to find someone who knows the lyrics to more bluegrass songs than Chris. Chris plays mandolin true to the tradition and style of the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe. He also knows the history behind the songs he sings, and will give you a bluegrass history lesson if you're interested. Chris is the 2014 recipient of South Carolina's Folk Heritage Award for his dedication to preserving bluegrass music traditions.
     The 2017 Watermelon Festival Bluegrass Concert will be held on Wednesday evening, June 21st at Open Arms Fellowship Church located on Hwy 601 North just past the old Nevemar/Westinghouse plant. The concert begins at 6:00pm and lasts approximately two hours. Comfortable seating as well as air-conditioning is provided and admission is FREE!!!

                                                 TESTIMONIALS FROM OUR LISTENERS
"I've been to most of the bluegrass concerts that they've had at the Morris, and this is the best bluegrass show they've ever had!"
- Audience member - Music at the Morris, Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA, September 2015

"The audience was very receptive and appreciative of the music, but I can understand why! Every time we hear you, it’s like the first time. I especially enjoyed Chris and Ashley’s explanations of the song backgrounds. This transformed a conventional event into a cultural experience."
- Marilyn Thomas, audience member at Spring Island's "Arts on Spring" concert, May 2016
"I was very much impressed with your interactions with the kids during Heritage Days at the Depot. You gave them some historical background, then got them involved! I'd love to have your band come do a program at Historic Brattonsville."
- Karen Cox, School Programs Manager, Historic Brattonsville Culture and Heritage Museums, October 2015

"Thanks so much to Palmetto Blue for coming to Myrtle Beach and being part of my campaign. Everyone is still talking about how much they enjoyed your band. I owe part of my election to you and the wonderful music. I couldn't have done it without you!"
- Myrtle Beach City Councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat, November 2015

"We just love having your band come here. Your stories about the music and the harmony singing of the Davis sisters and Chris just gives your band something that other bands don't have. We look forward to having you come back!"
- Waynesboro Opry Hostess Pamela Medley, February 2015

"Palmetto Blue played for my father's 70th birthday party and did an outstanding job. They got rave reviews from everyone present. They adjusted their playing style throughout the evening to accommodate the situations and were very engaging with the audience. The music was very well done and their singing was pleasant and well harmonized. I would recommend them for any event based on their accommodating nature and warm stage presence."
- Steven J, Lexington, SC, February 2014

       "Big Time" Music for 75th!
Posted 3.7.17
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”, 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.

  New Festival Welcome Signs 
           Are Now In Place


Posted 2.8.17

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 

Posted 1.7.17   
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.











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