Watermelon Festival draws in a sweet crowd

BROWNSTOWN — No matter where you looked in the streets of Brownstown on Friday and Saturday, there was most likely a slice of watermelon in someone’s hand.

The Jackson County Watermelon Festival came back at just the ripe time as people from all over the county and beyond filled the courthouse lawn and streets of Brownstown.

With the festival making a resurgence since its disappearance in 2016, many festivalgoers enjoyed nights of music, quality time with friends and family and of course, sticky, sweet watermelon.

Brownstown Ewing Main Street’s board began the discussion about reviving the Jackson County Watermelon Festival nearly five years ago.

Conner Barnette, vice chairman of BEMS, said the committee took the feedback from the public and chose to focus on a few areas of the festival that people said they enjoyed. Music, vendors and bringing back two classic contests — watermelon steal and seed spitting contest — were at the top of the list.

With the festival partnering with Pink Wagon Market, many local and out-of-town craft and boutique booths were set up in an area known as Melonaire’s Row on Cross Street for people to shop before the music started.

Across from the courthouse, Tammy Lewis, owner of Tammy’s Dance Studio in Brownstown, set up her craft booth with her colleague, Kayla Minton, in front of the dance studio and were taking a break to enjoy some watermelon.

“I have been coming to the Watermelon Festival a long time,” Lewis said. “Since it has been gone for a while, it’s hard to know how long I have been going, but ever since I was a kid probably.”

Lewis said she enjoyed spending time with her family and friends as well as the free watermelon.

Watching the watermelon steal, however, was probably her favorite.

“It’s so much fun watching the kids carry the watermelon while getting sprayed with a hose,” she said.

Lewis and Minton started their craft booth as a fun hobby to do together, and they enjoy setting up at events such as the Watermelon Festival.

With many slices of watermelon in front of them, they both agreed the best way to eat it is right off the rind.

Selling western-inspired fashion, Brownstown resident Deanna Whittymore was set up in her mobile boutique, Rustic Gypsy, at the festival.

“This is my first time setting up at the Watermelon Festival, and so far, it’s good. There is a good crowd here,” she said.

With fours years of being in business, Whittymore said she has always loved the western fashion and wanted to bring that style closer to home.

Whittymore said she looked forward to seeing the community come out to enjoy food, music, games and crafts at the Watermelon Festival.

A few booths down, Crothersville native Christin Lance was eagerly selling homemade soap out of her booth to festivalgoers.

“This is my first time setting up my booth at the Watermelon Festival, but I have attended the festival many times when I was a kid,” she said.

Besides the Watermelon Festival, Lance has set up her booth at the Seymour Oktoberfest each year since 2019 and sells her soap out of the Jackson County Visitor Center in Seymour.

With all of the excitement around watermelons, Lance made a special bar of soap that looks and smells like watermelon in honor of the festival.

Lance said one of her favorite parts of the festival was listening to the music with her family.

“I just love music in general and sing all the time,” she said.

Lance said she looked forward to listening to country music singer Sara Evans on Friday night along with many other festivalgoers.

With the courthouse lawn and streets packed with people both nights, you could say the Watermelon Festival was such a success that people lost their rinds.