One Tank Travels: Hope Watermelon Festival


We invite you to have “More Fun Per Gallon” in Arkansas this year. Each day we will be blogging on different Arkansas destinations which can be reached on one tank of gas or less. This is basically every corner of The Natural State. We hope these suggestions help you in planning a trip to remember.

Today’s Trip: Hope Watermelon Festival!

This week’s trip focuses on a specific festival since there is a pretty neat one this week: The Hope Watermelon Festival is August 9-11.

Watermelons have long been a calling card for the city. The Festival itself dates back to the mid-1920s when the city staged a one-day annual festival. During these early events, citizens served ice-cold watermelon to passengers on the many trains that stopped in Hope. These early festivals brought upwards of 20,000 people in a day to the town. The end to the first festivals came about 1931 when the city, suffering from the effects of the depression, could no longer accommodate the crowds.

In 1975, the city celebrated it’s centennial. The event was such a success that locals wanted to have more celebrations in town. This gave C.M. “Pod” Rogers ( a local promoter and newspaper man) the idea to organize a new Watermelon Festival in 1977. The event was a hit and has been an annual tradition ever since.

And Hope does indeed lay claim to the largest watermelon in the world. In spring 2006, the Guinness Book of World Records certified Arkansas native Lloyd Bright’s 268.8 pound melon ( which was grown on a farm east of Hope) as the world’s largest.

This year, the festival features cold watermelon by the slice, arts and crafts, entertainment, children’s activities, a politically correct melon eating, a water melon eating contest ( yep if must be a different contest than the PC one, seed-spitting, a bike show, a car show ( on the 11th) and more.

The music headliner for the festival is country singer Easton Corbin and the opening act is Logan Mize. The concert is on August 11 and gates open for it at 7 p.m. It’s a ticketed concert and tickets have been tagged at $12 each for general admission or $40 for reserved seats. Kids 4-10 years old can get in for $6. The concert is at the CMC Steel Products Stage at Hope Fair Park. Check out or call 870-777-3640 for more details on the festival or concert ticket information. Keep in mind that you have to pay for your watermelons here. And if you can’t get enough, there is also another festival in the state celebrating this fruit of summer : The Cave City Watermelon Festival, which takes place on the exact time days. Viva watermelon!

If you are in Hope enjoying the festival, another potential attraction to check out is Historic Washington State Park in nearby Washington. More details on the park can be found at


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