Watermelon Fest celebrates famous Sugartown fruit

DERIDDER — The eighth annual Beauregard Parish Watermelon Festival will run today-Saturday, June 27-29, at the parish fairgrounds.

The event will feature carnival rides, a talent competition, music, an appearance by Jessica Cavalier of “Swamp People,” and contests for both eating and carving watermelons.

“The soil up here creates the perfect conditions for these melons to grow, resulting in a melon known for being extremely juicy and for its sweetness,” said Cleo Martin, administrative assistant with the Beauregard Tourist Commission.

“This is the biggest festival we’ve planned so far, and we’ve got a lot of great vendors, contests and performances planned. It’s just a great time for families.”

The festival, which Martin said is expected to draw nearly 7,000 visitors, will begin today with the opening of a carnival and the Miss Beauregard Watermelon Festival Pageant at 6 p.m.

Cavalier will be at the event 4-10 p.m. Friday, and Blackbird and Warren Storm and Willie Tee & the Cypress Band will perform at 6 and 8:45 p.m.

The festival will open at 7 a.m. Saturday with a 5K and diaper derby and will continue with another appearance by Cavalier 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; a junior and adult watermelon seed spitting contest at 1:30 p.m.; a junior and adult watermelon eating contest at 2:30 p.m.; and a Watermelon Idol talent competition at 7 p.m.

“Our watermelon carving contest is unique, because it’s not like carving a pumpkin where you would carve out the insides,” Martin said. “Instead most people carve into the rind and don’t enter the meat of the melon, although some people do cut it completely open and create things out of the rinds such as boats, treasure chests and anything else they can think of.”

Festivities on Saturday will include performances by Jo-El Sonnier, Gregg Martinez and the Delta Kings, Da’Classics, David Locklear, Graybow Riot and the Bee Bop Girls.

Online: www.beauregardwatermelonfestival.com.