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Chamber seeks 2016 Watermelon Queen

Franklin County needs a special person to reign over the annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival, and the time to select that person is fast approaching.

The Franklin County Watermelon Beauty Pageant is set for July 23 at the Russellville City Schools Auditorium. It’s an event that has been a local tradition for decades.

“From what we have found, the pageant began in 1986,” said Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Director Cassie Medley. “Franklin County girls are gorgeous – why not showcase their beauty? Besides, who better to cut the first watermelon or award prizes for the watermelon contests than the Watermelon Queen?”

The pageant will award winners in age divisions of 0-11 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3-4 years, 5-6 years, 7-9 years, 10-13 years, 14-17 years and 18-21 years. Each participant will receive a 2016 Pageant tee and a participation trophy, and each age division will have a queen, 1st runner-up, 2nd runner-up, Most Photogenic, Prettiest Dress, Prettiest Smile and Prettiest Hair. The queen in each age division will receive a crown.

“Besides showcasing the beauty of Franklin County young ladies, it gives them the opportunity to be on a stage,” Medley said. “Some young ladies participate every year; for some it’s their first time on a stage. It gives them the experience and encouragement to participate in other pageants.”

Each year, the Watermelon Pageant produces Franklin County’s Watermelon Queen. Her duties are to cut the ceremonial first watermelon to begin the festival. She also awards prize money at the First Baptist Church Park Saturday to the contest winners of the following categories: largest weighing watermelon, best dressed, most unusual, best tasting and seed spitting.

Lacey Lane Brekeen, last year’s Watermelon Queen, said the pageant was “absolutely one of the most fun things I have ever done.” “It’s very rewarding. I got to meet so many different people, and I made a bunch of friends,” said Brekeen, who has participated in pageants since middle school. Perhaps surprisingly, Brekeen had never gotten a chance to attend the Watermelon Festival prior to 2015, so her year as Watermelon Queen was her first-ever exposure to the event. “It was so much fun, and I love watermelon.”

Although she is sad not to compete this year, she said she is excited to watch others. “I hope a bunch of girls do it,” Brekeen said.

Cost to participate is $45, and deadline to enter is June 30.

The Watermelon Festival is set for Aug. 19-20. For more information or an application, contact the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce at 256-332-1760 or