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Hot air balloonists fire things up for the Watermelon Festival

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.)