Hot air balloonists fire things up for the Watermelon Festival

Published 12:01 pm Friday, June 21, 2019

This year marks the 70th annual celebration of Cordele’s Watermelon Days Festival, and Saturday is full of events that are sure to entertain local residents and out-of-town visitors alike.

Here’s a complete list of events, locations, and how to get there:

8:30 a.m. — Watermelon Festival Parade — Grand Marshall Buddy Harden — 15th Avenue between 6th Street and Owens St. (Participants should be lined up at Southgate Shopping Center by 7:30 a.m.)

9 a.m. — Watermelon Days Arts & Crafts — Georgia Veterans State Park (vendors will be on site throughout the day)

9 a.m. — Watermelon Horseshoe Tournament — Adult & Youth Divisions — Turner Park (corner of 24th Ave. and 3rd St.)

9 a.m. until 2 p.m. — Watermelon Days Car & Truck Display — Georgia Veterans State Park

10 a.m. until 2 p.m. — 4-H Watermelon Slice Giveaway — Georgia Veterans State Park

11:15 a.m. — Watermelon Eating Contest — Georgia Veterans State Park

12:30 p.m. — Historic SAM Shortline Railroad Train Rides — Georgia Veterans State Park Depot — $10 per person (Rides will also be available at 1:30 p.m. and again at 2:30 p.m.

1 p.m. — Watermelon Chunking Contest — Georgia Veterans State Park

2 p.m. — Sweet Melon and Adult Seed Spitting Contest — Georgia Veterans State Park

8 p.m. — Watermelon Days Dance — Cypress Grill (Georgia Veterans State Park)

ALL DAY — Hot Air Balloon Festival (Weather permitting) — More than two dozen hot air balloonists will be providing untethered rides for $225 or tethered rides for $10 per person. Skip the line for tethered rides by purchasing a fast pass for $20 — Georgia Veterans State Park

FREE TRANSPORT TO GEORGIA VETERANS STATE PARK — The Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce has contracted with RMS Transportation to provide shuttles back and forth between Cordele and the state park on Saturday at no charge to festival-goers. Shuttles will depart every 30 minutes with the first leg beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the sidewalk in front of the old Fred’s Store. The last shuttle to the park will leave at 3 p.m., and the last shuttle back to Fred’s in Cordele will depart at 4 p.m. (No one under the age of 14 will be permitted to ride without being accompanied by an adult; those bringing infants or toddlers must provide legally approved safety seats.)