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Watermelon Festival named top event

One of Franklin County’s favorite events is fast approaching, and this year the event is going to be even more widely popular.

The Southeast Tourism Society has named the Franklin County Watermelon Festival one of the STS Top 20 Event in the Southeast for August 2016.

“Being selected as a Top 20 event by the Southeast Tourism Society is a huge honor,” said Chamber of Commerce Director Cassie Medley. The chamber coordinates the festival each year. “Receiving this recognition means that the third weekend in August will be posted on more families’ calendars around the Southeast.”

This year’s Franklin County Watermelon Festival is Aug. 19-20. Downtown Russellville is home of the Watermelon Festival, which began in 1981 as a way for local merchants to draw more people into the area. Since then, the festival has grown into a two-day event with tractor, car & truck shows, BBQ cook-off and entertainment by local, regional and national and international talent. Local civic clubs, churches and schools interact with their neighbors and guests of the event, and all attendees help themselves to thick wedges of juicy watermelon. The Franklin County Watermelon Queen awards prizes for the watermelon contests: best dressed, largest weighing, best tasting, most unusual and seed spitting.

The Watermelon Festival always promotes the State of Alabama’s tourism theme, while making it unique to the local event. The 2016 theme will be “The Year of Franklin County Makers.”

“We want those traveling to Russellville, along with residents to enjoy a family atmosphere with music, food, shopping and watermelon,” Medley said. “The reason the Watermelon Festival is celebrating its 36th year is due to the generosity of sponsors, volunteers and festival goers.”

Mayor David Grissom also shared his excitement about the Top 20 designation. “When Mr. Bolton started the Watermelon Festival, he knew it would be great for the City of Russellville,” Grissom said. “It has been cared for over the past few decades and grown into the largest festival in Franklin County and northwest Alabama. We look forward to seeing people all over the country visiting Russellville and Franklin County on this weekend. We hope families enjoy the atmosphere and make this weekend a ‘must do’ event for years to come.”

Events considered for the STS Top 20 recognition must be at least three years old and have attendance of at least 1,000. Nomination forms and deadlines are available at SoutheastTourism.org or by calling 770-542-1523.

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