2014 Watermelon Festival News
Committee introduces 5 new members; Update
Hampton— The Hampton County Watermelon Festival Committee met last week and was proud to introduce five new committee members, four of which plan to revive two events that have been on hiatus for over two years.
Beth Chafin and Kim Sinclair have joined the committee with the intention of bringing back the “Decorated Door & Business Showcase” contest. “Mary Ellis ran this event for years before moving to Columbia,” said Festival Webmaster Chris Haulsee. “After Mary left we didn’t have any other committee members that could pick it up and no one in the community stepped up and took it over. It’s great to see new people on the committee. This is the shot in the arm that we need to get more help with putting on this Festival. It is a huge move in the right direction,” Haulsee added.
Two other new members to the Festival Committee are Catherine Priester and ZoE McCrary, with the two taking on the Crafts Contest which has also been of the Festival schedule for a couple of years.
“We just want to see the Festival survive and grow,” Priester said. “There’s a lot of community pride when it comes to the Watermelon Festival and some of us want to help and be a part of that. The Crafts Contest is a huge part of the Festival and we need to bring it back. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The fifth new member isn’t doing anything new, he’s taking over an old member’s job.
Newly named Lake Warren State Park Manager, Noah Letter, is taking past manager Harry Hafer’s position on the Festival Committee as liaison between the park and the Festival. Letter, along with Park Ranger Kelli Halsell will aid in hosting Festival events that take place at Lake Warren including Festival Family Fun Day and the Fishing Contest.
In other Festival news:
This year’s Festival theme, “Promoting Physical & Spiritual Wellness”, the Committee has already asked that Dr. Glen Welcker to serve as one of the 2014 Parade Grand Marshals. The other Marshal will be decided on by Lawtonville Baptist Church in Estill.
It was decided at an earlier meeting that a representative of the oldest congregation in Hampton County would provide the other Parade Marshal and after research found that Lawtonville was the oldest continuing congregation. Originally it was determined that Beech Branch Baptist was the oldest but was now located in Allendale County.
The Spring Issue of the Farm Bureau publication “South Carolina Farmer” has an article about the Watermelon Festival in it. Copies of the magazine can be found at the Farm Bureau office in Midway.
This year’s Festival t-shirt design has been decided on. The 2014 version features a church as well as crosses on a hill. There is also a cycler and runner as well as a farmer and watermelons. The shirts will be available in four colors and will also be in regular cut t-shirt and tank-top form. A photo of the design is not ready yet for publication. Check the website at hcmelonfest.org. periodically for updates. Sizes for children and adults will be available and locations for purchase are the same as last year and include Ulmer’s Feed & Seed and The Frock Shop in Hampton and the Styling Salon in Varnville.
The 2014 Family Fun Day will feature a new attraction this year. Melvin Brown aka Jamel the Magician will be performing throughout the day on that Saturday. Jamel is from Arkansas and his goal is to perform in every state in the United Sates. This will be his first time performing in South Carolina.
Ads are still for sale in the Festival Brochure. There is still space for eighth, quarter, half, three-quarter and full page ads. Half and full-page ads are available in color. For more information on ad purchases, please contact Mary Kennedy at Hampton Printing at 803-943-3181.
Applications for Arts & Crafts vendors, food vendors, Little Miss and Master Pageant and the 2014 Parade are now available on the website at hcmelonfest.org.
The country band for the 2014 Street Dance has been decided on. “Ace of Clubs” will perform on the country end of Lee Avenue and DJ Kenneth will be back for the teenagers on Mulberry Street and a decision has not yet been made for the Beach/Top 40 band. Contact with the “Swingin’ Medallions” has been made but nothing has been decided.
The next Watermelon Festival meeting will be held at 7:00pm at the Hampton Methodist Church Social Hall on Thursday, April 3rd.
Festival Committee meets; announces updates
On February 6th, the Hampton County Watermelon Festival committee met at the Hampton United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall for their February meeting to discuss ongoing plans for the 72nd Festival to be held June 14th-22nd this year.
First on the evening’s agenda was discussion of the Executive Committee’s decision on raising food vendors permit fees from $300 to $350. That price is for the commercial food vendors located at the Courthouse on the second weekend of the Festival. It was also noted that church or civic organizations will still be charged the same price of $85 while the price for an “Icee” drink or drink vendor will also remain at last year’s fee of $100. Festival Chairman Jimmie Polk also added, “What we also decided was to limit the size of a food vendor’s trailer. If a trailer is over a certain length then the food vendor will have to pay for two spots. We have some folks coming in now with some pretty long trailers that take up an awful lot of room and we need to charge them for it. We aren’t making a huge amount of extra money on this increase, we just need to get what’s fair to the Committee.”
In other Festival business:
Festival Parade applications are now online and can be downloaded at hcmelonfest.org. Just go to the website and click on the Application icon at the top of the page. Scroll down to Parade and click to the link on the right. Click print and the application is yours. Fill it out and return it using the directions provided on the application.
The Committee is still looking for business sponsors to help in televising the Festival Parade, a tradition that has been taking place for several years now. If anyone is interested in their business being showcased during the Festival Parade then please contact Chairman Jimmie Polk by stopping by Polk’s Muffler in Hampton or you can call Jimmie at 803-943-2181. There is an advertising package that is offered that may be advantageous to your business. Spots generally go quick so call Jimmie today.
Mary Kennedy, committee head for the Festival Program Book, wants to remind folks that they are still accepting advertisers for this year commemorative 72nd anniversary Program Book. If your business or organizations is interested, please stop in and see Mrs. Kennedy at Hampton Printing in Five Points or call her at 803-943-3181.
Volunteers are still being asked for by the Festival Committee. Due to retirement and the moving away of some Festival Committee members, a void needs to be filled with some new blood. Event Chairmen as well as help for several events is needed as some events have fallen by the wayside because of the lack of volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a Festival volunteer, the next meeting will be held at 7:00pm on March 6th at the Hampton Methodist Church Fellowship Hall.
Festival goes with Wellness theme for 2014
Hampton, SC- The Hampton County Watermelon Festival has decided on the theme for 2014: The Hampton County Watermelon Festival Promoting Physical & Spiritual Wellness.
“This is a new theme for the Watermelon Festival,” said Festival Chairman Jimmie Polk. “I don’t think we have ever chosen a theme like this before. We plan on tying the hospital, along with other medical services in the county, and the churches in Hampton County. It’s a huge endeavor but it’s one I think we can pull off and be successful with. It’s also a theme that I hope everyone in the county can get involved in.”
While there is much work still to be done with the theme, one thing has been decided on. The Festival Committee has asked Glen Welcker, Chief of Staff at Hampton Regional Medical Center to serve as one of the parade Grand Marshals. The other Grand Marshal, which will be chosen as the spiritual representative, has yet to be determined. The committee has discussed finding a member from the oldest continuing congregation in the county to serve in that capacity. “Our next step is determining which church or congregation is the oldest in the county. We will contact the Hampton Museum and possibly the County Museum to help us figure that out, since they have done extensive work in the past on that topic,” Polk added.
In other Festival news, a new location for the carnival is being looked into as it did not do very well at its new location last year near the old incinerator plant site in Hampton. Several ideas have been tossed around by the committee that was formed to try to locate a new site, but nothing has been pursued.
Spaces for food vendors will be increased for 2014 as the price has not been raised in many years, while arts & crafts vendor space price will remain the same as last year.
This year’s Hampton County Watermelon Festival will be held June 14th through the 22nd.
Polk named new Festival chief
Longtime Hampton County Watermelon Festival Vice-Chairman Jimmie Polk was unanimously named the new Festival Committee chairman at last month’s Festival wrap-up meeting. Polk replaces outgoing Chairman Robert Brown who served in that capacity for last five years.
“It’s an honor and a pleasure to serve as the new chairman,” Polk said. “I’ve been working with the Watermelon Festival for years and look forward to leading the committee as we head into the future. As always we are short handed on many of our committees and I encourage folks to come out and give us a hand. It seems like every time we lose two members that we pick up one new one, at that pace you eventually run out of committee members. We will continue to accept all suggestions and ideas but we also need new blood to replace the folks that have been on the committee for not just years, but in some cases, for decades.”
For years Polk has been the go-to guy for getting things accomplished with the Watermelon Festival. “I know that for the five years that I was chairman I couldn’t have done it without Jimmie, said past Chairman Chris Haulsee. “Jimmie knows how to get things done, whether it’s problems with road closures to running the annual Mud Run. He always liked remaining behind the scenes each year, but now he gets to step into the limelight. Anyone that knows Jimmie will tell you that he’s a pretty outgoing guy but when it comes to being in the public eye he has always shied away from taking any credit for the Festival’s success and accomplishments. I know that he has the Festival’s best interest at heart and will do an excellent job.”
The announcement of Polk as the new chairman was not the only news as Food Concessions Chairman Nancy Meyer was named Polk’s replacement as vice-chairman of the Festival. Of the remaining Executive Committee positions, Cindy Davis remains as secretary, while Alice Hazel will continue her duties as treasurer and Ann Long with remain as member-at-large. Becky Young, who has served for ears on the Festival Committee, will become assistant-to-the-chairman.