How Sweet
It Is

June 14 - June 23

Festival History

Excerpts from "The World’s Original Watermelon Festival" By Martha Bee Anderson


Hampton County is the home of the world’s original Watermelon Festival. Since 1939, the Hampton County Watermelon Festival has grown to become South Carolina’s oldest continuing festival. From the beginning, it has been a celebration of, for, and by the people of this friendly Lowcountry County, timed to the melon harvest every summer. The tradition was interrupted only twice, first during World War II (1943—45) and again during the Korean War (1951).

History Highlights


Going back to the earliest celebrations, among the best attended attractions is always Friday night’s street dance in Hampton. But the crowning event of every Watermelon Festival, of course, is the Miss Coastal Empire pageant. Many a Palmetto State beauty has added to the scenery, including the late U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond’s wife, who came as Miss South Carolina (Nancy Moore of Aiken) in 1966, to the 24th Watermelon Festival.

In 1993...

the festival expanded to eight days, “Sunday to Sunday.” Opening ceremonies were coupled with a new event called “Festival Family Fun Day,” sponsored by the Hampton County Chamber of Commerce and held at Lake Warren State Park. The expansion made the Watermelon Festival the third longest festival in the state.

A new beauty is picked to be queen of the Coastal Empire every summer, while the same old King Watermelon reigns in glory! 

Festival Highlights

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Court House Grounds

June 14, 2019

7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Court House Grounds

Carnival Is Back


June 20-22, 2019


1 Nevemar Place 

Hampton SC 29924

Live Entertainment


Click on the "Entertainment" tab 

and "More" tab 

(scroll down to "Melon Events" for details)


 2019 Hampton County’s 

77th Watermelon Festival Pageant

June 15, 2017 

First Baptist Life Center 366 Rentz St.,

Varnville SC  

Pageant begins promptly at 11:00am 

Admission is $5   Children under 5 is free 

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