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Watermelon fest big hit

The 2009 Pioneer Village Watermelon Festival attracted the most vendors of any village festival to date and a large crowd on Saturday but G.V. Griffin, village manager, said the crowd on Sunday was smaller. But that was to be expected.

“With the downturn in the economy there’s just not a lot of traffic on Sundays,” Griffin said. “It’s been that way for a while, but it’s picking up some from three months ago. We get a lot of highway traffic here at Pioneer Village, especially during our festivals. But the economy situation is hurting us just like it is everybody else. But overall, this was one of the best Watermelon Festivals that we’ve had and everyone seemed to have a good time.”

The Pioneer Village Watermelon Festival is held annually the second weekend in July and comes close to rivaling Pioneer Days as the village’s most popular weekend event.

The success of the village’s three annual festivals – Pioneer Days in April, the Watermelon Festival in July and the Peanut Festival in October – Griffin credits with the desire to get back to a slower, simpler time and the opportunity for affordable, quality fun with family and friends.

“We had good entertainment, good food and good shopping,” Griffin said.

“Of course, at a watermelon festival you have to have free watermelon and we did and lots of it.”

For the kids there were all kinds of games including go fishing and the duck pond and for the more adventurous, there were pony rides and a cow to milk.

“We had 34 vendors and the village shops were open,” Griffin said.

“The shops have a large variety of items – antiques, collectibles, arts and crafts, leatherwork, jewelry, books, woodwork, small furniture and flea market items.”

The purpose of the Pioneer Village Watermelon Festival is to help grow the village and make it bigger and better.

“We want to bring people to the Pioneer Village to see what we have to offer and to let people know the opportunities that we have for small businesses,” Griffin said.

“Most of the shop owners work so Pioneer Village is mainly a weekend shopping place. A few of the shops are open during the week but just a few.”

Griffin said he appreciates the support of local people, and it’s encouraging to see so any locals enjoy the festivals along with people from around the area and those who just happen to see the signs, stop and enjoy an old-fashioned festival in rural Southeast Alabama.