Seeds of Sunshine
Watermelon Jubilee is a success despite rainy weather
To paraphrase a popular song of the Christmas season, &uot;In the mid-dle of August we had a Ju-bi-lee…&uot;
The Watermelon Jubilee, a top summer event in the Camellia City for 20 years, was held last Friday and Saturday, August 10 and 11, beneath the tall, shady southern pines atop ‘Watermelon Hill’.
There were as many things to see and do at the annual event as there were gifts for the ‘true love’ in that holiday tune just mentioned. Arts and crafts, live entertainment, tasty treats, sketch artists and much more were available to the many local and out-of-town visitors who attended the annual event. Despite some ‘threats made good’ by ‘Mother Nature,’ Jubilee survived and thrived.
&uot;Thunder was a-boomin’&uot;
The recent string of daily cloudbursts had organizers for the outdoor event understandably concerned.
On Friday at 3 p.m. the fair opened beneath uncertain gray skies and by 5 p.m. a true ‘gulley-washer’ had struck the city, forcing the vendors and exhibitors to quickly swath their wares in plastic while soaked visitors hastily made a muddy retreat.
The inclement weather forced the cancellation of Friday night’s much-anticipated gospel performance by the Rhythm Masters of Andalusia. &uot;We hate we had to cancel the show when so many people were planning to attend.
The rain’s not what we had hoped for…
Saturday’s usually our big day though so we feel like our weekend will still go fine,&uot; commented Randy Beeson, an event worker manning the ticket booth on Friday evening.
&uot;Lots of people shoppin’&uot;
Saturday morning dawned overcast-but dry.
Jubilee opened its gates at 8 a.m. and quite a few visitors decided to make an earlier start of it than usual, hoping to beat the predicted afternoon rain.
Many attendees could be seen browsing the booths with umbrella in one hand and one of the traditional complimentary ‘watermelon’ fans in the other. Most stopped on the way in to buy raffle tickets for the watermelon quilt pieced by Doris Solomon and Janice Stinson and quilted by Mabel Harrell.
A number of traditional woodcrafts were on display, everything from birdhouses and feeders to children’s hand painted furniture.
Colorful and creative ceramics and pottery, fabric crafts, leather goods, handmade soaps and candles, original artwork, children’s and adult clothing, coins, seasonal decorations, live plants and much more beckoned browsers into the booths.
Ouida Baker of Webb, Ala., reported brisk business at her booth, filled with colorful linen and knit clothing for women.
&uot;We’ve sold out of some sizes in some of the styles,&uot; she reported on Saturday afternoon.
Earline Holloway of New Orleans was pleased with the traffic at her booth displaying a selection of sterling silver jewelry.
&uot;It was a shame about the weather [on Friday] but that’s in God’s hands.
This is my first time here and I’m very impressed
organization of everything.
I don’t do a lot of outdoor shows, but this has been a nice experience…the hosts have been so helpful.&uot; she commented.
&uot;Five cloggers cloggin’&uot;
Those who wanted to take a break from browsing had ample opportunity to sit back and enjoy live entertainment at Jubilee.
Several sets were performed by the local group &uot;Southern Comfort&uot;.
The group, headed by Lonnie McGough, played traditional bluegrass and southern gospel tunes for the crowds.
A Jubilee staple, the Persimmon Creek Cloggers, performed several high-energy toe-tappers for appreciative visitors.
Paige Barr, one of the cloggers, has been performing about ten years now. &uot;It’s a whole lot of fun,&uot; the local elementary teacher said with a sunny smile
&uot;Beauty queens were smilin’&uot;
No southern festival would be complete without a reigning queen, and Jubilee had a bevy of young beauties representing the event.
From Teen Miss to Baby Miss, all were present at the Jubilee along with Alabama’s Watermelon Queen 2001, Heather Kengel, who performed as a vocalist on the event stage.
&uot;A bunch of kids a-hoppin’&uot;
The many kids in attendance at Jubilee had chances to jump in a bouncing house, show their seed-spitting prowess, get their portrait sketched or have their hair painted in rainbow hues with colorful matching ‘tattoos.’ Many old-fashioned toys — marionettes, sling shots, hobby horses, fishing poles, airplanes — caught the eye of the youngsters present.
Kids of all ages love the foods served at outdoor festivals like Jubilee, it seems.
Folks forgot their diets and long lines formed to buy barbecue plates, funnel cakes, ice cream cones, burgers and fries and Chinese specialties.
However, it didn’t cost a dime to enjoy the spotlighted fruit-many, many free slices of juicy red watermelon were handed out to Jubilee attendees.
&uot;Is that good, honey?&uot; Layden Lee’s mom asked as she shared a slice with her little girl.
The 2-year-old Andalusia native just grinned–and took another bite.
Jubilee — it’s a tasty, colorful, creative Camellia City classic.