The 38th annual Hope Watermelon Festival will open at noon Thursday, August 7 and run through August 9 in Fair Park in Hope, Ark.
This year’s event will feature more than 200 booths of arts and crafts, as well as a dozen concession stands selling everything from barbecue to corn dogs to blooming onions and alligator on a stick.
Thursday, Jim “Bear” Barentine will perform through the afternoon on the BancorpSouth Stage. Other Thursday events include the Kiwanis Chicken Dinner, a dog show, and preliminaries of the Watermelon Ido Talent Contest.
Music Thursday evening will begin with Rudy Preston and friends, including Carl Jackson, at 6:30 p.m. on the R.C. Cola stage; at 8 p.m., the Night Hawk Band will perform. Wyatt Putman from Spring Hill, Ark., will be featured at 7:30 p.m. on the 1st Bank stage.
Friday Festivities begin at 9 a.m. Highlights will include music from Jim “Bear” Barentine on the BancorpSouth stage throughout the day. The Lions Club fish and chicken dinner is set for the Fair Park Community Center from 4:30-7 p.m. Arthur Horneman of Hope will sing at 5:30 p.m, on the BancorpSouth Stage at 5:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., the Rev. Wallace Ingram will perform on the BancorpSouth stage. At 8 p.m., the Jason Helms Band will perform on the BancorpSouth stage. Friday evening, the group “Harmony” from Wickes, Ark. will perform on the 1st Bank stage.
The Little Miss and Little Mr. Watermelon Pageant, sponsored by Beta Sigma Phi, will be held inside the coliseum, while the Washington Vintage Dancers will perform at 7 p.m. outside the coliseum, followed at 7:30 p.m by Buzz Andrews.
Saturday will feature a 5K Race and the “Melon Mile” for kids; an antique car show; a children’s fishing derby on Lake Huckabee; the “politically correct” watermelon eating contest at 11:30 a.m. on the BancorpSouth State; the regular watermelon eating contest as noon; and the seed-spiting contest at 1 p.m. on the 1st Bank Stage, and at 2 p.m., the arm-wrestling competition will be held on the 1st Bank Stage. Earlier in the day, the melon judging and auction will be held, and Super 1 will have watermelons for sale.
Other activities will include the Yerger Museum Bingo, “money in the haystack,” and the antique engine show. Entertainment will include Carl Jackson, the “Brazzel Gospel Hour,” featuring the Garrett Memorial Quartet, the Gable Bradley Band and the Watermelon Idol finals.
The final activity of this year’s event is a concert by David Nail. Opening acts will include Barrett Baber and the winner of the Watermelon Idol finals. Advance general admission tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children 4-10. Adult general admission tickets will be $20 the day of the show.