Winterville Watermelon Festival returns for its 38th year

The Winterville Watermelon Festival returns for it’s 38th year
Published: Aug. 26, 2023 at 6:55 PM EDT
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WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The Winterville Watermelon Festival has returned in all of its glory for its 38th year.

Saturday morning the festival honored veterans with an appreciation parade, and although the feel-like temperatures were a 100 degrees, huge crowds filled the streets with excitement.

For many attendees like Carl Vanverere, being in the heat was all worth it.

Vanverere told WITN, “I’ve been coming to the Watermelon Festival since I believe 1984, so this is a long time coming. It’s just something we look forward to every year because it’s just a nice family event and we get to hear Marshall Tucker band play here tonight, it’s going to be a lot of fun, you know? What else do you do that is local community where everybody can just have fun and be friends?”

At the festival, you can also find a sweet treat and yummy foods at nearly every corner, but in the extreme heat, a frozen lemonade was a go-to drink for many.

Sunshine Girls Lemonade is a family-owned business and this year is their 44th year running this lemonade stand. For them, it’s easy to come back year after year.

Sunshine Girls Lemonade Stand Owner, Michael Link says, “The weather is always great, it is rather warm, people are hot and thirsty and we are here to keep them hydrated.”

Along with parades, concerts, and tasteful treats; a watermelon eating contest invited all eager watermelon eaters to eat a slice of watermelon as fast as they could.

For participants like Kevin Laughren, after winning for 5 years in a row, he’s picked up on many tips to share. “We always grow our own watermelons, use those to train, prepare for the competition.”

Though this year was no exception for defending his title, the competition has even turned into a family tradition as his son joins him for the championship at the age of 9.

Laughren said, “When he went to bed last night, I told him to think champion thoughts and he got up this morning thinking champion thoughts.”

So, whether you’re just starting out or experienced-- the Watermelon Festival truly has something for everyone.

The festival’s fun will continue tomorrow as well from 1p.m. to 6p.m. The day will be filled with rides, bouncy houses, and performances.

For anyone who is interested in being a part of the festival next year, there is a volunteer registration form to become a part of the planning committee on the Winterville Watermelon Festival website.