(BROWNSTOWN) - While Brownstown's annual MelonFest offers a variety of family activities, it also serves up a Jackson County favorite: watermelon.
And this year, festival goers can enjoy the late summer delight free.
"Our theme this year is celebrating Jackson County watermelons, and we will be serving free watermelon slices," festival chairwoman Marsha Lentowski said.
Those melons will be provided by Kamman's Farm Market,
This year's festival -- the 44th -- will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Brownstown Exchange Club's annual 5-kilometer walk/run begins before the festival opens Saturday. Registration begins at 7 a.m. in Jackson County Park, just east of town. The run/walk will start at 8 a.m.
The baby contest, sponsored by Country Friends Extension Homemakers Club, begins with registration at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and the contest begins at 10 a.m.
The parade starts at 1 p. m. Saturday. Among the entries will be the 2013 Indiana State Fair Queen Mariah Huff of Brownstown, who also represents Jackson County as its 2012 fair queen; the Stone Belt Shrine Club, Hill Billy Clan, the MelonFest princess and her court, and the Medora Christmas Festival prince and princess.
Two Colts cheerleaders, one of whom is a Brownstown native, also plan to participate in the parade.
Parade registration begins at 11 a.m. in front of Lutheran Central School, 415 N. Elm St. The parade will line up on Elm Street between Lutheran Central and Brownstown Central High School.
Other activities planned for Saturday include the watermelon steal, sponsored by Brownstown Fire Department, as well as a bubblegum-blowing contest, a carving contest and a food/ recipe contest, which will be on the courthouse lawn. Times for some of those events will be announced by the information booth during the festival.
The carving contest is for children ages 12 and younger. Entries need to be brought to the information booth next to the stage by 10 a.m. Saturday. Lentowski said carvings can be as elaborate as the carver wishes, such as a flower, a bird or a boat, or it can be as simple as turning a cucumber into an animal using toothpicks, pipe cleaners and eyes.
Entries for the food/recipe contests also need to be taken to the festival information booth.
Jackson County History Center will serve its traditional ham-and-bean dinner throughout the festival. In addition, assorted games, contests and challenges for all ages will be played in the Pioneer Village throughout the festival.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, there will be a Watermelon Crawl at the center, and there will be bingo sponsored by Hoosier Christian Village at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Pioneer Village schoolhouse.
The Margaret R. Brown Elementary School Bouncing Bears will perform rope-skipping acts at 3 p.m. Saturday near the Jackson County History Center, and the St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wegan, Youth Group will sponsor a cake walk at 3:30 p.m.
Musical entertainment also is planned for both days of the festival, and vendors will offer food, drinks, crafts and rides.
Groups scheduled to perform Saturday on the stage are Stars and Stripes Dance group, The Country Cloggers, Double Vision X3m, David Campbell II, Whitney Hamilton and Bad Country.
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