Are you ready for some of that good Hope Watermelon? The farmers are cutting them from the vine and they are getting sweeter everyday and the excitement is building as time inches closer for the 40th Annual Hope Watermelon Festival August 11, 12 & 13 at Fair Park in Hope Arkansas with food, fun, and good family entertainment.
The 40th annual Hope Watermelon Festival is set for August 11th, 12th, and 13th in Hope’s Fair Park. Fair Park is located off state highway 174 south of US 67.
The festival officially opens at noon Thursday August 11th. Most of the arts and crafts booths will be open along with the concessions. Highlights of the day include the Kiwanis Bar B Que chicken dinner featuring Tyson chicken. The meal will be served from 4:30pm to 7pm at the Fair Park Community Center . Take-outs will be available. Entertainment Thursday will include the Watermelon Idol Preliminary at 6pm on the Hope Auto/Farmer’s Bank & Trust stage in front of the coliseum and inside the coliseum on the McDonald’s stage will be “God’s Purpose”, a group from Nashville that mixes gospel music and Motown favorites. On the BancorpSouth stage Thursday night at 7pm with the Night Hawk Band. Rudy Preston and Friends will perform on the BancorpSouth Stages from 6pm to 7pm.
The festival opens on Friday August 12th at 9am. The annual Lion’s Club Fish Fry is set for 4:30pm to 7pm at the Fair Park Community Center . Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children4 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 7pm to 8:30pm. On the BancorpSouth stage Friday at 6:30pm will be the Dog Show sponsored and presented by Dr. Damien Stroderd and the Klipsch Group. Friday will also feature the Washington Vintage Dancers in front of the coliseum Friday at 6:30pm. The festival encourages senior citizen groups to attend on Friday. Rudy Preston and friends will also be featured on the Hope Auto/Farmer’s Bank Stage Friday from 5pm to 6:30pm. The Hope Junior Auxiliary will also have booth Friday and Saturday in front of the coliseum featuring face painting and the “bubble college”. From 10am until 2pm Friday Bill White, nephew of Jim Reeves will perform inside the air-conditioned coliseum on the McDonald’s stage.
Saturday is the busiest day of the festival. Events kick-off with the Watermelon 5k Run/Walk presented by the Melonvine Striders Running Club at 7:30am. The race will start at 6th and Mockingbird. For information you can contact Don Still at 870-777-1917. Applications are online at hopemelonfest.com. There will also be a Watermelon Festival Car Show from 8am until 3pm 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 9am 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 10am near the Super 1 Foods tent sponsored by State Farm Agent Heather Doucet. Children can scramble in the hay to win free money.
Watch your favorite elected official or candidate vie for top honors in the “Politically Correct” watermelon eating contest Saturday August 13th at 11:30am. 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. It is believed the sheriff has been practicing in an undisclosed location. The regular watermelon eating contest will follow at 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. At 1pm will be the seed spitting contest 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 Saturday starting with the “Brazzel Gospel Hour” at 9amsponsored by Brazzel-Oakcrest Funeral Home and featuring the popular Garrett Memorial Quartet. At 10:30am 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 2pm.
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 6pm with the Watermelon Idol Finals sponsored by the U of A Hope/Texarkana. Miss America Betty Cantrell will perform at 7:30pm 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.
Ice cold watermelon by the slice will also be available all three days at the Tyson truck on the north side of the park. There will also be camel rides at this year’s festival.
Make plans to attend the 40th annual Hope Watermelon Festival August 11th, 12th, and 13th. 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 , the Shreveport Regional Airport, and Southern Bakeries.