2015 Watermelon Festival NEWS!
Committee Names 2015 Queens
HAMPTON- The applications have been turned in and the committee has made their decision on this year’s Miss Hampton County Watermelon Festival and Teen Miss. The 2015 Miss Hampton County Watermelon Festival is Hannah Michelle Stanley with Emily Caroline Wilson being named 2015 Teen Miss Hampton County Watermelon Festival.
Hannah, a Hampton resident and 18 year old Wade Hampton senior, is very involved in school and community organizations and events that include the Wade Hampton Beta and Interact Clubs. During her high school career, Hannah also performed as a cheerleader and a member of both the cross country and varsity soccer teams.
Academically, Hannah has won the Academic Excellence Award at Wade Hampton each year of her high school career. She has also been named a Columbia College Scholar and University of South Carolina-Aiken Scholar. Hannah plans to attend USC-Columbia where she wants to earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Psychology before continuing on to a master’s degree before becoming a Clinical Psychologist. Hannah hopes to someday open her own mental health facility to “help others who may not be able to help themselves.”
Hannah holds three other crowns as well. In 2013 she was named Sophomore Class Queen, Prom Princess (11th grade), and 2015 Wade Hampton Homecoming Queen. Hannah is the daughter of Michael and Michelle Stanley.
Emily is a 17-year old Wade Hampton High School junior who lives near Lake Warren State Park.
Emily is also very active at Wade Hampton and in the community. As a junior, academically Emily has been named a Palmetto Girls State Delegate, Class Vice-President and Beta Club Secretary. In 2013 and 2014 Emily received the Academic Excellence Award and was a Sophomore Advisor (10the grade). Athletically, Emily has performed as All Region soccer, volleyball and cross country participant and Lower State track & field qualifier.
In the community, Emily has served well, too. She has served as a Hampton County Watermelon Festival “Melon Bell”, has helped with community food and blood drives, Relay for Life, reading books to Brunson Elementary students and the list goes on. Emily also participates regularly at her church.
Emily also makes “Bangle Bracelets” and sells them, giving 10% of her income to local missions.
The new Teen Miss has plans for after high school hoping to attend Clemson University where she wants to major in Business Management. She wants to become an entrepreneur involved in community development.”I have seen the opportunities and challenges of living in a rural community. I would like to play a role in highlighting the positive aspects of the Lowcountry.”
Emily is the daughter of Nathan and Kay Wilson.
Festival Committee Makes
Street Dance Changes
Posted 3.17.15 Story by Chris Haulsee
Hampton- The Hampton County Watermelon Festival Committee held their monthly meeting last Thursday night to discuss this year’s Festival while finalizing some of the music plans in store for the 73rd celebration.
Due to lack of turnout on the “Country Music” end of Lee Avenue, the Festival Committee has decided to end the decades-long tradition of hosting a Country-Western live band on that end of the street. The 2015 Street Dance will feature the usual “Beach Music-Top 40” band on the “Courthouse” end of the street and will move the DJ from its current location, off of Lee Avenue to the old location of the country band.
“Last year the turnout was not very large for the country band,” said Festival Chairman Jimmie Polk. “At the same time, we have seen a huge increase in attendance for the DJ. The kids love it and we haven’t had any real problems since the idea of having a DJ for the younger crowd came to be two years ago.” Festival Webmaster Chris Haulsee added, “The Committee is looking for ways to trim costs as bands become more and more expensive. Sometimes you have to go where the crowd is and what you are getting your best response from. The DJ at the Street Dance has started to draw a much larger crowd than the country band and the country band costs 3-4 times as much as the DJ, plus our DJ is a local guy. We know that some folks will miss the country band but we still have a beach/top-40 band that will pick up many of those country fans.”
The Committee wants to remind everyone that they can still come out and dance to a wonderful band and DJ. Please remember that the costs of live bands continue to skyrocket while the Watermelon Festival still provides a Street Dance that is free of charge to anyone attending while still providing quality entertainment.
Speaking of the Street Dance, William Koger has announced that he will try to book the East Coast Party Band for 2015. ECPB has performed at the Festival in the past and has always been well received. Koger hopes to book them within the next few weeks.
Committee member Robert Brown announced this past week that the band for this year’s Bluegrass Concert, held at Open Arms Fellowship Church each year, will feature some homegrown talent with the band “Graham’s Turnout.” GT has performed at the gazebo on Saturdays during the Festival as well as headlining the Festival’s Opening Ceremonies and Family Fun Day at Lake Warren State Park.
In other Festival news, there is still not much headway in bringing back the Carnival that took last year off due to a lack of location that was suitable. All other committees reported that their events were on track and were running smoothly.
Festival Chairman Polk announced that the Committee was in need of new blood and that several positions on the Committee would need to be replaced next year, his being one of them. Other key positions that will need to be filled by the end of this year include: Arts & Crafts Chairman, currently held by Okey Byrd; Mud Runs Chairman, currently held by Jimmie Polk; Taste of Hampton County Chairman, currently held by Ann Long; and Festival Chairman, currently held by Jimmie Polk. Not only do these positions need to be filled, there are also several other committees that need some volunteer help. Festival meetings are held the first Thursday in the month.
In other Festival news, advertising space for this year’s Festival Souvenir Book is available. If you would like to place your regular ad or if you are a new business that would like to support the Festival, please contact Lettie Ginn at 803-625-4408. If any businesses, church or civic groups would like to rent a float for this year’s Festival, please contact Terrell Cleland at 942-3521.
If anyone would like to sell Arts & Crafts this year and you need space, Arts & Crafts applications are now online at hcmelonfest.org. Go to the website and click on the “applications” tab, print the application, fill it out and mail it in. Time is running out on applying!
The Hampton County Watermelon Festival Committee will have its next meeting on Thursday, April, 2nd at 7:00pm. Meetings are held at the Hampton United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall located just behind the church on Mulberry Street in Hampton. Everyone is welcome to attend!
Graham's Turnout to perform
at Bluegrass Concert
Posted 3.12.15 Story by Chris Haulsee
This year the Hampton County Watermelon Festival has decided to go with a local flavor for their annual Bluegrass Concert. In the past the free concert has featured bands from all over South Carolina and the Southeast while always having a big crowd.
The band of choice for the 2015 Festival is a local Bluegrass group Graham’s Turnout. Graham’s Turnout has been around for a few years and have previously appeared at the Watermelon Festival’s “Family Fun Day” held each year at Lake Warren State Park as part of the Festival’s “Opening Ceremonies.”
The members of the band include: Mike Meyer- mandolin, harmonica & vocals; Lee Hutto-rhythm guitar, mandolin & vocals; Mac Millen-bass guitar, guitar, percussion & vocals; Steve Bennett-vocals, banjo, dobro & guitar.
This year’s concert will again be held at Open Arms Fellowship Church, located on Highway 601 North as you head out of Hampton. The concert is free to the public.
Festival Committee sets 2015 theme;
names Parade Grand Marshal
Posted 2.26.15 Story by Michael DeWitt, Jr.
Hampton County, with its plentiful pineland acreage, teeming wetlands, 440-acre Lake Warren State Park and a trio of vast, state-managed Wildlife Management Areas, has selected the theme for its 2015 Watermelon Festival: "The Outdoor Life in Hampton County." The 73rd edition of this fine South Carolina festival tradition is set for June 20-28, 2015, and is beckoning to all lovers of wild, open-air spaces and Southern small town charm.
Break the stifling monotony of those long June days by trekking to quaint Hampton County, nestled on the back porch of the South Carolina Lowcountry between the rivers Salkehatchie and Savannah, where you can enjoy an adorable "kiddie" parade, the Taste of Hampton County smorgasbord, a fishing contest, a pet show, the Battle of the Towns, a mud run, a free street dance and what just may be the longest parade in the Palmetto State - covering 2.4 miles and two towns! And the Grand Marshal of this year's parade - which is scheduled to be televised on Savannah's WTOC Channel 11 - is well known in outdoor circles: Hampton County native Sidney Jones, a retired S.C. Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officer who during his career was beloved by the law abiding, feared by the lawless and respected by all.
From the hardcore hunter and freshwater enthusiast to the gentle birdwatcher and hiker, there is something for every nature lover to sample here in this serene corner of the coastal region. While you're in town for the festival you can enjoy hiking, fishing or nature watching at local blackwater rivers, scenic Lake Warren, and top-notch professionally guided hunting plantations; or venture deeper into the wild to hunt and fish public lands at Webb, Palachucola and Hamilton Ridge WMAs in Garnett.
Come and stay all week. We've got plenty of room, lots of fresh air and a few thousand pounds of ice-cold watermelon! Founded in 1939 and organized entirely by volunteers since, the Watermelon Festival is online at www.hcmelonfest.org.
- Courtesy of Michael DeWitt, Jr., Hampton County Watermelon Festival Committee volunteer and South Carolina Wildlife contributor