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VIDEO: Winds, rain can’t dampen spirit of Cantaloupe Festival

Strong winds and heavy rains pelted Halifax County Fairgrounds shortly before show time Friday afternoon, but it would take more than Mother Nature to deter the crowd of determined festival-goers who were ready to enjoy the 32nd annual Virginia Cantaloupe Festival.

The storm did postpone the event an hour forcing early bird arrivals to sit in the parking lot as festival workers reset tents and cleaned up debris created by the strong winds and heavy rainfall.

If the storm had a bright spot, it would be the cooler temperatures left behind, according to Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Pool, who described Halifax County’s annual party as “still a success despite the bad weather at the beginning.”

After about a half-inch of rain fell and strong winds cooled the 100-degree temperatures down into the 80s, the crowd was able to enjoy great music, food and fun.

“I was absolutely pleased with the turnout given the unfortunate incident earlier with the storm, and it was a serious event,” Pool said.

She expressed appreciation to Halifax County Emergency Services and its Coordinator Kirby Saunders who helped the chamber regroup and get organized.

Saunders said when he arrived on the scene, prior to the storm, he evacuated the open fairground area taking everyone into the grandstand area for protection.

Tents and sound equipment for the bands were damaged in the storm, and one band lost a speaker that got wet in the rain.

Saunders said he had previously discussed an evacuation plan to be put into action should a storm occur during the festival.

Since the storm occurred before the festival got under way, Saunders said he and chamber officials were grateful that more people did not have to be evacuated.

 “They helped us get prepared and were very helpful with that,” Pool said of Saunders and other Halifax County Emergency Services volunteers.

Those attending enjoyed a tasty meal of fresh corn grown by Reese’s farms, home cooked potato chips, barbecue and sliced tomatoes. 

A new addition to this year’s menu, chicken wings were a hit.

On the menu for desert were blackberries and blueberries from Coles Farm, grapes, watermelon, vanilla ice cream and cantaloupes grown by Reese’s Farms and Steve and Tommy Hudson. 

Thirsty festival attendees had a wide selection of beverages from which to choose.

The Pizazz Band got the party started with popular hits like Flo Rida’s “Low,” “The Cupid Shuffle,” “The Wobble” and LFMAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” 

The crowd enjoyed the popular tunes while dancing on a manmade sandy beach provided by Joe Bailey of Bailey Masonry, LLC.

On the stage after Pizazz was the featured Legends of Beach performing a variety of beach classics.

Something different this year, those who did not wish to drive to the fairgrounds were able to ride to the festival in a shuttle bus provided in select locations.

Jessie Allred was the lucky winner of the Budweiser Party Cruise given away during the festival. 

Many local organizations were at the festival lending a helping hand including members of Southside Outreach who helped serve cantaloupe, fruit and ice cream to the crowd, while Halifax County United Way staff and volunteers sold Cantaloupe Festival T-shirts. South Boston Rotary Club members, along with Dixie Youth coaches and several area fire departments also worked to make this event possible, Pool said.

“This county is so blessed to have the people we do,” she said of the volunteers from the various organizations who she describes as “very generous.”

The chamber president said she already is looking forward to next year’s festival.

“We are going to meet in a month and get feedback to see everybody’s thoughts and how and what we should do,” Pool said.


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