Our parade is known as the longest in the state of South Carolina. 3.2 miles, beginning in the Town of Varnville ending in the Town of Hampton. We can knock on wood because since our festival's inception in 1939, the Watermelon Festival has never been rained out. That's pretty amazing for 76 years.
Queens, floats, state and local dignitaries are just a few of our festival's highlights. We also display bands like the Marine band, local homemade floats and decorated vehicles and horses. Remember, our parade is always during the summer so make sure you find some shade (unless you're looking to get a tan). Bring plenty of water to drink or keep an eye out for water being handed out and/or surprise mists of water during the parade. The parade starts at 10:00 a.m.
Our Festival Street Dance is the 2nd largest event of the Festival each year (the Parade being the largest in attendance). Lee Ave., in Downtown Hampton, is designated to the street dance on the Friday before the parade and the night is filled with music and old fashioned family fun! See old friends and make new friends. Who knows, many girls and guys may meet their future husband or wife on our special night.
On the courthouse end of the street you'll find one genre of live band entertainment, carefully and thoughtfully selected by the festival committee...on the other end of the street you'll find and entirely different genre of music to cater to the differences of many.
As always, the Street Dance will feature a two great bands. One of the best things about the Street Dance is that it's FREE and there's plenty of food just across the street near the Courthouse Square if you get hungry. Pick up some great crafts and souvenirs while you're there.
Presentation of the committee chair and co-chair
Presentation of the grand marshall, speaker, and Melon Belles and Beaus
Palmetto State Bank will be sponsor hot dogs and drinks
Free watermelon slices will be served; and the watermelon eating contest.
Parents save yourselves a night of cookin' and head over to the "Taste of Hampton County". Cooks from all over the county share their homemade recipes with anyone and everyone that attends. One of the most beloved events at each year's Festival, the "Taste" is held at the Wade Hampton High School cafeteria and is a cost-friendly $5 for ages 7 and up and free for kids 6 and under. Salads, entrees, breads, veggies, deserts are all on the menu and you get a taste of anything you like, at least until it runs out. Don't miss a great night of fantastic food and fellowship.
The Festival Fishing Contest is one of the Watermelon Festival's oldest events with all-day fishing out at Lake Warren State Park for ages young and old. There are lots of free giveaways and trophies for several species of fish. If you have a boat, bring it. If you don't have a boat, then take advantage of the dam, spillway, gazebo or pier. Don't forget your bait and you may want to bring some sunscreen and bug repellant along with something to drink, but remember no alcohol! Registration for the contest is inside the Lake Warren State Park gate at Picnic Shelter #1 and starts at sunrise. Bring the whole family and catch a mess of fish. Who knows maybe you'll win a prize while you're there!
The Battle of the Towns has been around for 39 years with teams from several of the towns and communities of Hampton County competing for bragging rights as well as the Hampton County shaped trophy that the winning team keeps for a year. Each team participates in what may be some of the wackiest races and competitions that you will ever see. The Festival Committee sponsors the event on the Wade Hampton Football Field and always manages to come up with the craziest, most off-the-wall ideas imaginable. The event is family-friendly and even includes a "baby crawl" competition to determine who the fastest youngin' on all fours is. Concessions are always available at this event. Bring the whole family out for a night of excitement and silliness.
Yes, the kids in Hampton County have their own parade, too! Each year the Festival Youth Parade draws a huge crowd to the town of Varnville and features the amazing ingenuity that these kids are known for when it comes to decorating for this event. Baby carriages, strollers, wagons and golf carts are all decked out in the year's Festival theme with the parade beginning at the Varnville Baptist Church and ending at the Varnville Gazebo. Following the parade, trophies are awarded for each classification and then it's free watermelon slice time!
"Children's Day in the Park" is two hours of fun-filled entertainment specifically designed for the younger youngsters. There's everything from face painting, sidewalk chalk, contests, games of chance and even a water slide and bounce house. While you and the kids are there you can enjoy entertainment performed by local talents in the field of dance and music. It's lots of fun and a great opportunity for the kids to get out and enjoy being part of the Watermelon Festival. Make sure your babies wear sunscreen and get plenty of fluids because it's probably going to be hot.