Watermelon Festival at Pioneer Village

Published 11:30 pm Thursday, July 9, 2009

In July 1985, the Pioneer Shopping Village and Flea Market broke new ground in Pike County with a Watermelon Festival. The event was so popular that it became an annual event and has become a mid-summer tradition for many area families.

The 2009 Watermelon Festival will be from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12 and admission is free.

“We’ve got a lot of events planned for both days and the shopping will be good,” said G.V. Griffin, village manager. “So, we invite everyone to come out and enjoy the weekend with us.”

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The Watermelon Festival is a family event and there will be plenty to keep the kids entertained.

“We’ve got all kinds of activities and games planned for the kids,” said Nan Wallace, programs coordinator. “Many of the activities will be centered around watermelons – the watermelon eating contest and the watermelon seed spitting contest. But we’ll also have a wheelbarrow race and a fish pond. One lady will be here with a cow that the children can milk and a calf that they can bottle feed. We’ll have pony rides and lots of fun games and contests.”

For people of all ages, there will be the ever popular cake walk and entertainment and lots of good things to eat.

Food vendors will serve barbecue, hamburgers, hotdogs, funnel cakes, roasted corn, pork skins, milk shakes, soft drinks, boiled and roasted peanuts and snow cones.

“We’ll also have a variety of arts and crafts,” Wallace said.

“The vendors will have steel art, jewelry, pillows, ceramics, bookends made from rocks, birdhouses, handmade quilts, just about any arts and crafts items that you expect to see at a festival.”

In addition to arts and crafts on the ground, the 10 historic structure shops will be open.

The shops offer shoppers everything from Alabama souvenirs to Western and Indian items and from antiques and collectibles to used furniture.

The LifeSouth Blood Bank will also be at the site and WLWI Radio will broadcast live from the Pioneer Shopping Village and Flea Market.

The village host three annual festivals, Pioneer Day in April, the Watermelon Festival in July and the Peanut Festival in October.

The Pioneer Shopping Village and Flea Market was founded by James Ralph Johnson as a place where visitors could step back in time and enjoy an educational and memorable shopping experience.