The 40th annual Hope Watermelon Festival is set for August 11-13 at Hope's Fair Park, which is located off State Highway 174 south of US 67.
The 40th annual Hope Watermelon Festival is set for August 11-13 at Hope’s Fair Park, which is located off State Highway 174 south of US 67.
The festival officially opens at 12 noon on Thursday, August 11. Many of the arts and crafts booths will be open along with the concessions. Highlights of the day include the Kiwanis Barbecue chicken dinner featuring Tyson chicken. The meal will be served from 4:30 p.m. to 7p.m. at the Fair Park Community Center, and take-outs will be available.
Entertainment on Thursday will feature the Watermelon Idol Preliminary at 6 p.m. on the Hope Auto/Farmer’s Bank & Trust stage in front of the coliseum and inside the coliseum on the McDonald’s stage, “God’s Purpose”, a group from Nashville that mixes gospel music and Motown favorites, will perform.
On the BancorpSouth stage Thursday night, the Night Hawk Band will perform at 7p.m. with Rudy Preston and Friends opening from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The festival will open on Friday, August 12 at 9 a.m. The annual Lion’s Club Fish Fry is set for 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Fair Park Community Center . Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 4 to 12. Take-outs are available but require an adult ticket.
Friday evening will feature Dave Almand on Hope Auto/Farmer’s Bank & Trust Stage in front of the coliseum from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and on the BancorpSouth stage, the Dog Show sponsored and presented by Dr. Damien Stroderd and the Klipsch Group will start at at 6:30 p.m.
Friday will also feature a performance by the Washington Vintage Dancers in front of the coliseum at 6:30 p.m. Rudy Preston and friends will perform on the Hope Auto/Farmer's Bank Stage Friday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The Hope Junior Auxiliary will also have booth Friday and Saturday in front of the coliseum featuring face painting and the "bubble college".
Saturday, August 13 is scheduled to be the busiest day of the festival. Events kick-off with the Watermelon 5k Run/Walk presented by the Melonvine Striders Running Club at 7:30 a.m. The race will start at 6th and Mockingbird. Applications are online at hopemelonfest.com.
There will also be a Watermelon Festival Car Show from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. near the swimming pool. It is sponsored and presented by the Hope Civitan Club. Entry fee is $20. For information call Mona Still at 870-648-5084.
The Melon Mile Fun Run starts at 9 a.m. presented by the Melonvine Striders and sponsored by Coffee Family Dental.
The Melon Judging and Auction takes place at 10am at the Super 1 Foods tent. Don Worthy will auction off the giant melons and the public is invited for the chance to take home a big melon. This event is sponsored by First State Insurance, Secure Storage, and DB Audio and Electronics.
The popular “Money In the Haystack” will take place at 10 a.m. near the Super 1 Foods tent sponsored by State Farm Agent Heather Doucet. Children can scramble in the hay to win free money.
Watch elected officials or candidates vie for top honors in the “Politically Correct” watermelon eating contest at 11:30 a.m. The event is sponsored by the U of A Hope/Texarkana on the BancorpSouth stage. The event has been won for several years by Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton.
The regular watermelon eating contest will follow at 12 noon on the BancorpSouth stage. There are categories for ages infant to 7, 8 to 15, and 16 and up. The event is free and anyone can enter.
The seed spitting contest will start at 1 p.m. on the Hope Auto/Farmer’s Bank & Trust Stage in front of the coliseum. This event is free and for all ages. It is sponsored by Farmer’s Bank & Trust.
The "Women of Hope" will hold their annual Bingo on Saturday inside the coliseum. The bingo games are always popular.
There will be a variety of musical events at the BancorpSouth stage on Saturday starting with the “Brazzel Gospel Hour” at 9 a.m. sponsored by Brazzel-Oakcrest Funeral Home and featuring the popular Garrett Memorial Quartet.
Then, at 10:30 a.m. local favorite Carl Jackson takes the stage. Following the watermelon eating contests, the Saturday entertainment on the BancorpSouth stage wraps up with the Arm Wrestling competition at 2 p.m.
The highlight of the festival will be a concert by the Oak Ridge Boys on the CMC Steel Products stage near Legion Field.
The program opens at 6 p.m. with the Watermelon Idol Finals sponsored by the U of A Hope/Texarkana.
Miss America Betty Cantrell will perform at 7:30 p.m. and the Watermelon Idol winner will perform at 8:25pm.
At 8:30pm, the Oak Ridge Boys will take to the stage in the most anticipated concert in the Watermelon Festival’s history.
Advance general admission tickets are now on sale for $15 at the Chamber office and locations throughout southwest Arkansas . $40 reserved seat tickets are available at uacch.edu. General Admission tickets on the day of the concert will be $20.
There will also be camel rides at this year's festival.
The festival’s presenting sponsor is Tyson and the corporate sponsors include BancorpSouth, Super 1 Foods, Hampton Inn and the Holiday Inn Express, Verizon, the University of Arkansas Hope/Texarkana, and Southern Bakeries.