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CAVE CITY: Cave City Watermelon Festival kicks off today

By Charlie Gocio

This article was published August 9, 2007 at 3:02 a.m.

— Known as having the world's sweetest watermelons, Cave City celebrates its claim to fame every year by throwing the Annual Cave City Watermelon Festival.

And for the 28th year in a row, city officials aim to please the crowd with a rind-thumpin' good time.

Festival organizer Charles Landers said the festival means a lot to the people of Cave City.

"It lets people see who we are, what we got and what we do," he said, laughing. "It gives us something to tie to, and a lot of communities don't have anything like that."

The festival, which is held at Cave City City Park at West South Street and Park Avenue, will be held from 6-10 p.m. today and Friday and all day Saturday. A main stage in the park will host all musical entertainment.

Tonight will see watermelon judging begin at 5 with the winner announced later in the evening. Only those that are registered growers will have watermelons judged. To register, growers must pay a fee and be a member of the Chamber of Commerce.

Entertainment for today includes open mic from 6-6:45 p.m., Evonne Baxter and Big Creek from 7-7:45 p.m. and White River Bluegrass Firstfrom 8-9 p.m. At 9 p.m., a drawing will be held for a surprise adult prize, and the winner must be present to win. Afterward, White River Bluegrass First will take the stage again until 10 p.m. when drawings for youth, teen and another adult prize will be held, including a $300 cash prize.

Friday night will also see open mic from 6-6:45 p.m., followed by the Cave City Cruisers Car Club making a drive-by at 7 p.m. and Rockin' Luke Stroud taking the stage from 7:10-7:55 p.m. Sonny Burgess and the Pacers will play for the rest of the night with a break at 9 p.m. for the adult prize drawing.

Saturday's event kicks off from 6-10 a.m. with a pancake breakfast provided by the Kiwanis Club in the Bank of Cave City parking lot. Meanwhile, the Cave City Cruisers will have their Annual Car Show in the park, and at 10 a.m. the Watermelon Festival Parade begins (line up will be held at 9 a.m. at the high school gym).

After the parade, Queen Melon and the beauty pageant winners will be announced, and Mayor Carl Johnson will welcome the crowd. For a limited amount of time, a political forum will be held for those who want to "get up on the stump," Landers said.

From noon to 12:30 p.m., Kaleena Hutchins will take the stage, followed by the Anointed Ones, a gospel group, from 1-1:45 p.m., the horseshoe pitching contest at 2 p.m. and Backroads from 2-4 p.m. with a break at 3 p.m. for the adult prize drawing.

The Free Watermelon Feast, featuring watermelons from the registered growers, will be heldat 4 p.m. (Everyone is asked to put their rinds in the designated truck bed.) The Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest will be held at 4:30 p.m., and the Prize Melon Auction will be held at 5 p.m. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

Entertainment Saturday night includes the Gospel Hour Singers from 6-6:45 p.m., the Gospel Echoes from 7-7:45 p.m. and Karen Peck and New River from 8-10 p.m. with an adult prize drawing at 9 p.m.

At 10 p.m., a drawing will be held for the vendor's prizes, as well as drawings for youth, teen and another adult prize, including a $500 cash prize.

Three Rivers, Pages 51, 52 on 08/09/2007

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