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Festival begins Aug. 17

In a few days, the famed Franklin County Watermelon Festival will be taking over downtown Russellville.

All of the usual highlights will be present again this year, from the watermelon contests to the car and tractor shows, and a diverse musical lineup will entertain guests throughout the late August heat.

The Midnighters will kick off the musical entertainment Aug. 17 at 6 p.m., followed by Rewind at 7 p.m. Returning Eagles cover band 7 Bridges will be the Friday headliner, and their performance will start at 8:30 p.m.

“7 Bridges was a huge hit at last year’s Watermelon Festival. The board heard nothing but compliments and the request to have them perform again,” said Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Director Cassie Medley.

Aug. 18, the Kerry Gilbert Band will take the stage at 5 p.m., followed by the L.A. Outlaws at 6 p.m. and the Joseph Baldwin Band at 7 p.m.

Sweet Tea Trio is Saturday night’s headliner, and their performance will start at 8:30 p.m.

“Sweet Tea Trio expressed interest in being part of the entertainment, and the Chamber’s Board of Directors thought they would be a good fit for the Watermelon Festival,” Medley said.

At 11 a.m. Aug. 18 in the park behind First Baptist Church, the watermelon contests will begin. Awards will be presented for seed spitting, most unusual watermelon, best-tasting watermelon, best-dressed watermelon, largest watermelon by weight and largest Franklin County watermelon by weight. Prize money will be awarded in each category.

The tractor show will be returning for its 11th year. It will start at 9 a.m. and last until around 1:30-2 p.m., according to coordinator Mike Powell.

“Normally we have around 30-40 show up from about a five-county area,” Powell said.

Trophies will celebrate the top tractors in several categories, including oldest tractor, fan favorite and best of show.

The annual Watermelon 5K Run will take place Aug. 18 at Russellville High School. Registration will begin at 6:45 a.m., and there are two parts to the event: the 5K and the one-mile fun run. The 5K will start at 7:30 a.m., and the one-mile fun run will start approximately 10 minutes after the 5K is finished. It is sponsored by the M100 RHS Majorettes.

Indoor entertainment is also scheduled to take place at the Roxy Theatre again this year.

Starting at 10 a.m. Aug. 18, Watermelon Pageant winner Lauren Belcher will be introduced. The RHS A Capella pop ensemble performs at 10:15 a.m., and entertainment continues as follows:

  • 10:30 a.m. – Studio X-Treme Twirlers
  • 11 a.m. – Conner Bendall
  • 11:30 a.m. – Members of the Russellville Academy of Performing Arts
  • 1:30 p.m. – Tara Greenhill’s students
  • 2:15 p.m. – Bert Fowler’s students
  • 2:45 p.m. – Jade Galowitch

RFD releases new breast cancer awareness shirt

The Russellville Fire Department has revealed what this year’s breast cancer awareness T-shirt will look like and has announced a pre-sale.

“This is another way we like to do our best to serve our community. It’s such a great cause with cancer being so prevalent in our area these days,” said Fire Capt. Randy Seal.

T-shirts will be available for pre-sale during the Watermelon Festival Aug. 17-18. After the Watermelon Festival, T-shirts will also be available for pre-order by picking up order forms at RFD Station 1 and Station 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“All proceeds go to Russellville Hospital here in our city, so it all goes to help our local citizens,” Seal said.

Short-sleeve shirts are $15, and long-sleeve shirts are $20. Children’s shirts are available in youth small through extra large. Adult shirts are available in small through 3XL.

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