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Shootin’ You Straight performs at the Watermelon Festival in 2019. The group returns this year as part of the 2021 festival set for this weekend.

Franklin gears up for free, fruity fun

Plenty of fruity fun is on tap for this weekend, when a sweet summer treat takes center stage during the annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival.

Set for Aug. 20-21 in Russellville, the Watermelon Festival offers arts and crafts, a variety of watermelon contests, car and truck show, tractor show, food vendors, children’s activities, games and musical entertainment, along with free samples of watermelon.

“We are so excited for the 40th annual Watermelon Festival,” said Emily Mays, secretary of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Board. “Nothing celebrates summer in Franklin County quite like the Watermelon Festival, and we are thrilled for everyone to get out and enjoy this year’s event.”

The 2020 festival would have been the 40th, had it not fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers said it is exciting the festival is able to return this year.

“The festival would not be successful if not for the generous support of our sponsors and volunteers. It takes numerous people working from within multiple departments in Russellville and Franklin County to prepare for this two-day event,” said Cassie Medley, executive director of the Franklin County Commerce.

The festival weekend begins with opening ceremonies at 5:45 p.m. Friday. Music gets underway at 6 p.m. when Tremayne takes the stage, followed by REWIND of the Shoals and Shootin’ You Straight, a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band.

The music continues Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. with performances by the Kerry Gilbert Band, Joseph Baldwin Band and the Ultimate Garth Brooks Tribute.

Additional free local entertainment can be found Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Historic Roxy Theatre.

Contests centered on watermelons – including watermelon seed spitting, the largest melon, best-tasting melon, most unusual and best-dressed melons – are a highlight each year, entertaining festivalgoers of all ages.

More than 100 vehicles are expected for the car and truck show Friday night and Saturday morning, and additional activities include a 5K run and 1-mile fun run, character guests to entertain the children and the Franklin County Extension contests.

The Southeast Tourism Society named the Watermelon Festival a Top 20 Event in the Southeast in August 2019.

“We look forward to a wonderful weekend celebrating the 40th Franklin County Watermelon Festival,” said Medley. “This year’s festival offers main stage entertainment along with the vendors; car, truck and tractor shows; kids’ area; and, of course, watermelon. It is sure to be fun for the entire family.”

“I’m looking forward to the Watermelon Festival returning this year,” said Mayor David Grissom. “It’s a treasured Russellville tradition and a great way to celebrate summer and have fun together as a community.”

All activities take place along main street, Jackson Avenue. Hours are 6-10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

For more details, visit the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce website at www.franklincountychamber.org and click on the Watermelon Festival link or call 256-332-1760.

For the latest information, like the Franklin County Watermelon Festival page on Facebook.

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