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Festival T-shirts go on sale

People who are ready to prepare their Franklin County Watermelon Festival outfits don’t have to wait any longer: T-shirts are on sale now at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

In honor of the third and final year of the state’s bicentennial celebration, the art for this year’s T-shirt follows the theme of storytelling.

“Mr. Ant is with his kiddos reading their favorite book, ‘Tales of Watermelon,’” said chamber director Cassie Medley. “The artist did a great job.”

Each year Medley and the chamber board of directors collaborate to brainstorm and create a rough sketch of the art that will adorn the festival T-shirt. They then work with an artist in the Shoals, Scott Campbell, to make their idea a reality.

“The chamber devotes a lot of time to choosing the T-shirt colors and perfecting the artwork each year,” said chamber board president Emily Mays. “Some purchasers spend a lot of time choosing their color selection carefully because they know they are going to wear it often, and we love to hear that.”

This year’s shirts are available in cherry red, ash grey, lime green and royal blue. The festival committee selects the colors it wants each year, with committee input sometimes playing a role in the decision.

“That royal blue was because of last year – the directors chose a shirt that we have different from everybody else that has ordered so when we’re working we stand out to each other plus people in the crowd who have questions can find us. We chose a royal blue shirt last year, and everybody loved it,” Medley said. “So that was at the top of the list to have this time.”

Infant sizes are only available in red and are not large enough to include the artwork on the back – for 6 months through 4T.

Long-sleeved shirts are available only in adult sizes and are denim-colored.

T-shirt cost is $10 for infant sizes, $15 for youth through adult XL and $18 for 2XL-4XL. Cost is $20 for long-sleeved shirts.

“The Watermelon Festival T-shirts have become as iconic as the Watermelon Festival itself,” said Mays. “Everyone looks forward to the time when festival T-shirts go on sale, and you don’t have to go far in Franklin County to spy one when you’re out and about. Their signature bright colors and fun artwork are truly recognizable and have become a cornerstone piece of gearing up for the festival. The best part is how much the community enjoys this annual T-shirt.”

People can buy their shirts at the chamber office in downtown Russellville from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They will also be for sale at the festival, but Medley said sizes and colors are often limited by then because so many people do buy in advance. The chamber can also mail shirts to people who are out of town.

Medley and Mays said they hope people enjoys this year’s artwork and the tribute it pays to the bicentennial.

“Our history is important, not only the state but the county and the festival – how it’s grown, changed and gotten better,” Medley said. The T-shirt art highlights the importance of sharing that history as well as the importance of family – another cornerstone of the festival. “People have fond memories of when they were younger, coming with their parents or grandparents, and now coming with their kids.”