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Watermelon warm up: Annual Thomas E. Watson Watermelon Festival, other activities planned for Aug. 12

Like the melons themselves, the 2006 Tom Watson Watermelon Festival is bigger and better than ever.

The festival, sponsored by the Watson-Brown Foundation, is Saturday, Aug. 12.

The day begins with the Watermelon Waddle at the Depot in downtown Thomson at 7:30 a.m.

To register for the two-mile run/walk, call 706-595-8886.

The rest of the fun starts at 9 a.m. on the grounds of Hickory Hill, the home of the late Sen. Thomas E. Watson, at 502 Hickory Hill Drive in Thomson. The big events of the day include:

  • Tom Watson Watermelon growing contest. Event organizer Michelle Zupan said the foundation has given away over 100 packets of seeds this year.

    "They do take a lot of TLC," Miss Zupan said. "They are some of the largest watermelons around in terms of weight and size. They consistently win blue ribbons at county fairs."

    The winner of the contest at the festival won't take home a blue ribbon, instead they'll take home green - $300 cash to the largest Tom Watson variety watermelon.

  • Watermelon recipe contest. Entrants should bring a completed dish along with a typed copy of their recipe. Miss Zupan said the recipe can be in any category from beverages to desserts.

    "We have judges who will stand there with spoons at the ready," she said.

  • Watermelon carving contest.

    This is a new event this year, divided into an adult category and a kid's category. Entrants should bring a watermelon that they have carved however they choose.

    "It's the same thing as carving a pumpkin, except you don't have to scoop the guts out unless you want to," Miss Zupan said.

  • Watermelon seed spitting contest. Miss Zupan said "just show up, sign up, and spit."

  • Greased watermelon three-legged race. This event is for children. Entrants will be paired and tied together, and will carry a melon that has been covered in baby oil through a course.

  • Watermelon shot-put. This event is for adults. Entrants will toss watermelons that are slightly larger than grapefruit, but don't weigh as much as a shot-put.

    "This is just like the Olympic event," Miss Zupan said. "We are hoping the USOC will smile favorably on our idea."

  • A variety of vendors, including food, arts and crafts, and education. The U.S. Army Signal Corps Museum, the Savannah River Ecology Lab will be there with snakes, turtles and alligators, the Morris Museum of Art, and "a bunch of Living History folks coming from North Augusta," Miss Zupan said.

    The educational displays will also feature some entertainment. Miss Zupan said there will be a reenactor who portrays an antebellum slave.

    "She does a wonderful job," she said. "And we look forward to having her out to do her performance for us."

    Also the National Wild Turkey calling champion will come from Jonesboro S.C. to strut his stuff.

  • Musical entertainment. Skyla Spencer will open at 2:30 p.m., followed by Thomson's own Crosstie Walkers.

    "We're hoping that people will bring their lawn chairs out, and sit back and enjoy a cold drink and maybe some watermelon, and listen to the music in the afternoon," Miss Zupan said.

    The festival is free, and ends at 6 p.m.

    For more information, visit the website at or call 706-595-8886 or 706-595-7777.

    See photos from last year's Watermelon Festival
    Click on images for more photos

    Web posted on Thursday, August 3, 2006

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