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Water Valley Celebrates 49th Annual Watermelon Carnival This Weekend


By Talbert Toole, Lifestyles Editor; Adam Brown, Sports Editor
talbert.toole@hottytoddy.com
adam.brown@hottytoddy.com
From the Violet Valley Bookstore to The BTC Old Fashion Grocery, Water Valley residents and businesses are rolling out the red carpet for this year’s 49th Annual Watermelon Carnival, which kicks off Thursday, Aug. 2 and runs through Saturday, Aug. 4.
This year’s carnival is expected to bring in more than 20,000 locals and visitors, according to Zandra Walker, Water Valley’s Chamber of Commerce secretary.
Walker said the Chamber started planning this year’s carnival immediately after last year’s came to a close. The Chamber is the main sponsor of the event and is in charge of planning the event from start to finish, she said.
Their responsibilities include registering vendors, obtaining sponsorships and entertainment, to name a few. 

The Water Valley Chamber of Commerce is the main sponsor who organizes the Watermelon Carnival each year, according to Zandra Walker, the chamber’s secretary. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Linda White, the publicist chair member, organized publicity for the carnival including the 2018 Watermelon Queen, which was awarded by the junior auxiliary committee this past spring.
Kristie Hartley of Tillatoba, Mississippi is this year’s Watermelon Queen. Photo courtesy of Linda White.

This year’s queen is Kristie Hartley of Tillatoba, Mississippi and a recent graduate of Kirk Academy in Grenada. She is the daughter of Mark and Faye Hartley. Hartley will attend Northwest Mississippi Community College where she will pursue a degree in accounting. Upon completion she will move on to Ole Miss.
Hartley, along with other pageant winners, will be presented at the opening ceremonies on Friday night. 
Oxford residents and filmmakers Bobby Davis and Charlie Brusco said they are excited to attend this year’s event for future film ideas.
“[We] want to see what it looks like as a spectacle,” Brusco said.
While the carnival takes place, local shops such as Mis Fits Boutique looks forward to the incoming foot traffic, according to Aubrey Doyle, a sales associate.
The local clothing store decided to extend its hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the carnival to allow customers extra time for Main Street shopping, she said.
Local artist Jonathan Adams painted Violet Valley Bookstore’s front window display for this year’s carnival. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Another favorite during the watermelon carnival is the BBQ contest. Contestants may spend all Friday night cooking a whole hog that will be judged the next day by Memphis BBQ judges. Festival-goers can take part in the taster’s choice on Saturday sampling some of the local dishes. The taste test winner will receive $1,500.
The classic cars are also big hit at the annual Watermelon Carnival located at Shuffield Park, just east of the depot. It is free to enter into the contest and will run from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. This year the carnival is adding an antique car parade Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. that will begin at Shuffield Park, go downtown and circle around the park. 
For a full list of Watermelon Carnival events, see below:
Thursday, August 2nd:
6:30 p.m. – Civic Auditorium, Watermelon Music Festival Pre-Show
Featuring: Water Valley Community Band
7 p.m. – Civic Auditorium, Watermelon Music Festival Sponsored by Town and Country Garden Club
Friday, August 3rd:
ALL DAY – Chamber of Commerce Booth Beside the Gazebo Watermelon Carnival T-Shirts, Programs, Vendor Information
ALL DAY – City Park, Craft Vendors, Food Vendors and Children’s Activities
4 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Music by Melvin Mordecai
5 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Music by Talbot Adams
6 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Opening Ceremonies
Invocation and Welcome – Mayor Donald Gray
National Anthem – Coulter Clement
Introduction of Watermelon Queen Kristie Hartley & Court
6:30 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Music by Whiskey Barrel Band
8 p.m. – Central Street, Street Dance – Sponsored by Renasant Bank – Oxford All Stars
9 p.m. – City Park, Fireworks Spectacular, Sponsored by Mechanics Bank
Saturday, August 4th:
ALL DAY – Chamber of Commerce Booth Beside the Gazebo Watermelon Carnival T-Shirts, Programs, Vendor Information
ALL DAY – City Park, Craft Vendors, Food Vendors and Children’s Activities
6:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Casey Jones Railroad Museum, Lions Club Pancake Breakfast
6:30 a.m.- Downtown Pavillion, Registration for 31st Annual 3K Walk/Run, Sponsored by Mechanics Bank (FREE)
7:30 a.m. – Railroad Park, 31st Annual 3K Walk/Run, Sponsored by Mechanics Bank (FREE)
8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Shuffield Park, 23rd Annual Car Display, Sponsored by Fischer Properties (FREE)
Chamber of Commerce Booth Beside the Gazebo, Register for Periodic Drawings for Vendor Gifts
Behind Renasant Bank, Train Tracks Pork Attack Barbecue Cooking Contest Sponsored by Ajinomoto Foods North America, Allied Group Inc., Carquest Auto Parts, MidSouth Rehab, Sayle Oil Company, TVEPA & Turnage’s Drug Store
9:00 a.m. – Yalobusha Country Club, Watermelon Open Golf Tournament
9 a.m. – 11:00 AM – Railroad Park – Downtown, Sidewalk Chalk Art – Sponsored by the Water Valley Arts Council
9 a.m. – 11 a.m. – City Park Gazebo, Music by Tom Foolery
9 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Behind Renasant Bank, Tasters Choice Bar-B-Q Contest Purchase of tickets (Only 100 Available)
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. – Air Conditioned Trolley, Runs Every 15-20 Minutes Between Park & Downtown (FREE)
Trolley Stations at SW and SE Corners of Park, Sponsored by the Water Valley Chamber of Commerce
10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – From Shuffield Park to City Park, Antique Car Parade
11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Renasant Bank Parking Lot, Various Watermelon Games (FREE) Conducted by Jr. Auxiliary, Sponsored by Justin Brooks Farms, Willie Pullen Farms & Sonic
11 a.m. – until – Behind Renasant Bank, Tasters Choice Bar-B-Q Contest, Buy a Ticket & Vote for the Best Dish
11 a.m. – City Park Gazebo, Music by Kate Keeley
12 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Largest Watermelon Contest, Sponsored by Williamson Farms, Ingram Cattle Company, & The Lee House
12:30 p.m.- 1:30 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Music and Dance by Desoto Boomers
1 p.m. – Southwest End of City Park, Watermelon Slices-Sponsored by Cayce Washington (FREE)
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Music by Eric Deaton
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Music by Tanner Mills
3:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Dog Costume Contest, Sponsored by Second Chance Animal Alliance & WV Chamber of Commerce
4 p.m. – 5 p.m. – Music by Down South Band
5:15 p.m. – City Park Gazebo, Train Tracks Pork Attack Barbecue Contest Winners Announced


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