Watermelon Festival opens today in Murfreesboro

Published 5:06 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011


MURFREESBORO, N.C.—What started more than a quarter century ago as a four-hour affair has blossomed into one of eastern North Carolina’s biggest events.

The North Carolina Watermelon Festival begins its 26th annual run in Murfreesboro today, July 27, and continues through Saturday, July 30.

“The transformation this festival has seen over the years is amazing,” said event Co-Chairperson Kay Thomas. “We have grown from four hours to four days and feature a wider range of activities. But what hasn’t changed over the years is the family-oriented atmosphere one will find in the friendly little town of Murfreesboro. And, as is tradition, there is no admission fee and plenty of free parking.”

That town will grow by leaps and bounds as upward of 40,000 visitors are expected over four days.

As far as security goes, Murfreesboro Police Chief Darrell Rowe said there is a plan in place, one in which law enforcement officers on foot and motorized patrols work in unison.

“We try to make it as safe as possible for people while they’re here,” said Rowe.

The Murfreesboro Police Department receives assistance with the festival crowd from law enforcement agencies from all across the Roanoke-Chowan area. Rowe said during the peak hours of the event, 15 to 17 officers at a time are patrolling the festival grounds.

The festival’s opening day is highlighted by an appearance by the TFC Band from 8-11 p.m. On the Broad Street stage, “The Janitors” will open the evening of musical entertainment at 5.

Also on today’s agenda is the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce’s spaghetti dinner from 4-7 p.m., amusement rides starting at 6 p.m. with a $20 “ride-all-night” special and Melon, a Bingo type game starting at 7:30.

The North Tower is the featured musical entertainment at 8 p.m. Thursday. That day’s agenda also features a trout dinner sponsored by the Murfreesboro Rotary Club from 4:30-7 p.m., the Hotcakes band at 5 p.m., another round of Melon and amusement rides.

On Friday, the crafts/antiques fair opens at noon. Moonshine will play at 5 p.m. and Island Boy at 8. Jefcoat Museum will sponsor the day’s main meal — pork barbecue and fried chicken beginning at 4:30 p.m. The midway area opens at 6.

Saturday is the festival’s biggest day — beginning at 7 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at Murfreesboro Baptist Church and ending with the Coconut Groove Band performing from 8-11 p.m. on the main stage.

In between is the state’s largest agricultural parade at 10 a.m. on Main Street, a 5K road race, the crowning of the 2011 Watermelon Princess, the selection of Little Mr. and Miss Farmer, watermelon eating and seed spitting contests, amusement rides, bands, clogging groups and solo artists, and fireworks at 9:15 p.m.