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Watermelon Festival Saturday

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

The sun is expected to shine on the 59th Annual Watermelon Festival on Saturday when the mercury reaches into the low 90s. 

It's the sort of weather that should make the folks appreciate a cold slice of watermelon that will be provided for free by the local watermelon farmers at the tent next to the Chiefland Police Station on Park Avenue and South Main Street.

The annual day-long celebration is organized by the Chiefland Woman's Club to raise money for its scholarship fund and community projects. The City of Chiefland also pitches in to help with the promotion of the area's biggest early summer crop. 

While the cool weather this spring might have slowed the 2013 watermelon crop's growth, there will be ample supplies on hand for festival-goers. 

The farmers will be lined up at Trailhead/Depot Park on South Main Street at 7 a.m. when the annual weigh-in to find the largest watermelon begins. 

At 8 a.m. the vendors will have their booths up, stocked and open for business. 

While the farmers are weighing in at the park, the Suwannee Valley Rotary Club will be registering and dispatching bicyclists from the shopping plaza on North Main Street on rides that range up to 100 miles. This is the second year for the fund-raiser that supports the club's community projects. It is drawing cyclists from around the state and neighboring states. 

The annual parade will roll at 11 a.m. from the Chiefland High School parking lot, down Main Street to the park. 

There is a new feature in this year's festival, the crowning of the Watermelon Queen will not be until 3 p.m. Saturday. In the past, she was crowned during the pageant. This year's pageant was held on May 24 and other 2013 Watermelon Festival Royals were chosen: Baby Queen Olivia Hassell, Teenie Queen Avaree Noelle Welbers, Tiny Queen Elyzabeyta Jane McDaniel, Toddler King Garrett Riley Richburg, Toddler Queen Addison Spencer, Little King Landon Riley Jenkins, Little Queen Ainslee Ember Welbers, Petite Queen Railyn Colley, Junior Queen Kinsey Brianne Akins, Princess Hunter Glisson, and Teen Queen Madisyn Brooke Oglesby.

In addition, there will be visiting royalty from the National Watermelon Association and their state affiliates. The Chiefland festival is a favorite stop for many other festival queens.

IN between, there will be arts and crafts to peruse and buy, a used book sale, live entertainment, watermelon eating, seed spitting and watermelon rolling contests. There will also be an auction of some of the bext watermelons. 

It's a time for Chiefland, which recently celebrated its centennial, to shine and take a bow.