GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County Watermelon Fest will return to the county fairgrounds June 22-23 for its third year, and organizers said they’re bringing more watermelons than ever before.
Deltona-based company Buckler Promotions Inc. brought their now-annual Watermelon Fest to the Clay County Fairgrounds in 2017, which is also where the Agricultural Fair and Scottish Games are held. Now, after two successful runs, they’re bringing entertainment options more than ever before, including 70 vendors, water slides, bounce houses, a petting zoo, a beach boys tribute band, contests and, of course, watermelon.
“The story behind our festival is that watermelon festivals happen all around the states,” festival show manager Linda Provost said. “As far as festivals like this go, summer time is a slow time in Florida so a few years ago, we decided to do a watermelon fest and bring it to the beautiful Clay County fairgrounds.”
According to Provost, Buckler Promotions is extremely happy with the success they’ve found in Clay County. They expect roughly 5,000 to 6,000 people this year, which pales in comparison to the strawberry festival.
“We also do the strawberry festival every March at the fairgrounds and that usually brings in 11,000 people over its two days,” Provost said.
Regardless of the numbers, Clay County Tourism Director Kimberly Morgan said events like these, big or small, are always great for the county.
“Events create memorable experiences,” Morgan said. “Events always bring visitors because they may have been invited by a friend or family member or simply have a special interest that fits the event.”
Provost said visitors can expect 70 food and drink vendors serving up treats like watermelon ice cream, watermelon shish kabobs, watermelon fudge, wine mixes and of course, ice cold slices of the fruit. When visitors aren’t busy eating watermelon, they can take part in seed spitting contests, watermelon eating contests, hula hoop contests and other events like bowling with watermelons.
Anyone who participates gets five Watermelon Bucks that they can spend at the event. Because the event takes place during the heat of a Florida summer, Provost said Buckler Promotions made sure that they have some things going on in the air-conditioned buildings located at the fairgrounds. Provost is most excited about Beach Boys tribute band, Endless Summer.
“They’re a great hit with both our parents and the kids that show up to these events,” Provost said.
If you’re interested in attending this year’s watermelon festival, you can purchase a ticket for $6. There’s no charge for children 2 or younger. If you bring a canned good, you will receive one dollar off the admission price with each canned good going to the Green Cove Springs Food Pantry. Provost said that a portion of the benefits from the festival will also be shared with Jacksonville-based organization, City Rescue Mission, which provides food and shelter to the homeless.
The festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the watermelon festival, you can visit claycountyfest.com.