Putting on a normal parade is no easy task. The Hampton County Watermelon Festival is no normal parade.
The crown jewel of H.C. Watermelon Festival events, this massive parade spans two towns – roughly 2.2 miles – and includes more than a hundred entries each year and thousands of spectators. This year’s parade began in Varnville at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday and concluded in the town of Hampton just before lunchtime.
As you can imagine, this parade takes months of planning in advance, from organizing the layout on paper, to clearing highways and even stopping a train.
“The parade is the big event, the culmination of the entire festival in just a couple of hours, but it is unbelievable the amount of work that goes into it, taking applications, people showing up at the last minute wanting to get in, people coming late or not showing up at all, putting the right queens on the right float, etc.,” said Festival Co-Chair William Koger. “But more people attend this event than any festival event, so all the hard work is worth it. I love the parade, it’s a great one, and it’s bigger and better than any other parade in the state, in my opinion.”
If you want to thank the dedicated members of the Watermelon Festival Parade Lineup Committee, they include:
- Steve Kemmerlin, longtime HCWF volunteer, retired Hampton County education and coach;
- Ronald “Breeze” Winn, longtime HCWF volunteer, former Hampton County Councilman;
- David Ellis, HCWF webmaster, retired information technology specialist;
- Junier Dopson, longtime HCWF volunteer and community youth volunteer.
This year’s parade included more than 100 entries. The winners of the 2022 Watermelon Festival Parade Judging were:
- Grand Marshals – Dr. Neal Shealy and Buck Harvey, PA-C
- Theme Award – Best Representation of Festival Theme – Sullivan’s Auto & Recovery
- Spirit Award – Best Group Participation – Faye Gooding and HCCAR
- Melon Award – Best Use or Display of Fresh Watermelons – Regions Bank
- Innovation Award – Best Homemade Entry (Float or Otherwise) – Veteran Owned Real Estate
- Shriners Award – Best Clown Act, Character Act or Motorized Act – Summerville Cowboys
- Non-Specific Festival Parade Award – Dance Sensations
This year’s Festival Parade Judging Committee included: Tony Barnes, Jose Flores, Kristi Flores, Suzette Cregger and Emma Cregger.