The 2016 Hampton County Watermelon Festival will be an electrifying one

The 2016 Hampton County Watermelon Festival will begin with the traditional dropping of the watermelon during the annual Family Fun Day at Lake Warren State Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Several new or returning festival events will also take place during the weeklong festival.

The theme of the 74th Annual  Watermelon Festival is “Honoring Our Linemen: Those Who Light Up Our County.” In keeping with this theme, the Watermelon Festival Committee has selected two local, veteran electric linemen as grand marshals of this year’s parade on Saturday, June 25: Aron Winn of Palmetto Electric Cooperative and James Gordon of SCE&G. As has been tradition for several years running, this 10 a.m. parade will once again be broadcast by WTOC TV in Savannah.

One change to the Festival will be the Children’s Day in the Park. It will remain on the same day, Wednesday, June 22, from 10 a.m. until noon, but has been moved to the Lightsey Park on Willard Street (the park with the walking trail) for space and safety reasons.

A big deal this year will be the return of the Watermelon Festival Carnival. The carnival will offer rides, games food and other attractions to patrons young and old alike. It will be located on Pine Street, behind the Town Hall in Varnville, and will be open from 5 p.m. until midnight during the weekdays of the festival and all day on Festival weekend!

Returning to the Family Fun Day event this year will be horse drawn carriage rides and a watermelon eating contest. The carriage rides will take place at Lake Warren between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and the watermelon eating contest will take place at 1:30 p.m.  The winner of the watermelon eating contest will win a gift certificate for a free festival t-shirt.

For the second year in a row, the Hampton County Watermelon Festival “mud runs” will be held in Yemassee, at 28790, Pocotaligo Road. On Sunday, June 26, look for locals to go all out and bury their big-block-powered mud machines to their limits. Gates open at 10 a.m. and the racing begins at 1 p.m.

For a complete schedule, and almost everything you need to know about the Watermelon Festival, check out our Festival Section on pages 1-14B of this week’s paper, or go to the Festival website at www.hcmelonfest.org.