Nine-year-old Sara Isbell smiled as she took bite after bite off the slice of watermelon Monday evening at the Dothan’s Family Fourth celebration.
Isbell took home a first-place prize in the watermelon eating contest at the celebration held at Center Stage.Brandi Isbellattended the celebration with her mother, and three children, including Sara.
“I came to see the band Blackberry Smoke, and the fireworks,” Brandi Isbell said. “The kids wanted to go on the water slides.”
The watermelon eating contest became a family event for Robert Lewis after he said his nephew, 5-year-oldLandon Adams, and daughter, 8-year-old Amber Dinsmore, talked him into entering the adult portion of the contest. Adams won third place for his age group. Lewis’ daughter, Anna Belle Dinsmore, enjoyed three slices of watermelon even though she didn’t enter the contest.
“The kids wanted me to do it, and I couldn’t disappoint them,” Lewis said. “We just came out here to have fun.”
The event offered a variety of items for children, which included face painting, several carnival-like rides along with a reptile exhibit. The celebration also included a Kids Zone with inflatables, which was sponsored by Wiregrass Electric Co-Op.
Conservationist Bruce Shwedick led the Reptile Discover Show act that featured such animals as a 16 foot python and a Himalayan Iguana.
Jessica Eubanks, of Dothan, who attended the celebration with Judy Nelson, 9, Brandon Nelson, 6, said her family really enjoyed the car show and the reptile exhibit.
“They actually got to sit in the Modet T (Ford), and the fire truck,” Eubanks said. “The reptile show was really cool because they actually got to pet the animals and get pictures for free.”
Eubanks, who had previously attended the event at the National Peanut Festival, said she brought her family to the event so the kids could enjoy the water slides.
“I think they had more vendors before, but the bathroom facilities are a better here,” Eubanks said. “There’s a lot more space out here. This is like Woodstock. We got our little flags we bought that we’re going to wave during the fireworks.”
Robert Helms, the secretary of the Kiwainis Club of Dothan who hosted the event, said the event in its fifth year had a “great” turnout. The event was held at the amphitheater on the Center Stage grounds on U.S. 231 South. The event had previously been held at the National Peanut Festival Grounds. The event cost patrons $10 at the door, and $6 each for advance ticket sales.
“We’re very pleased with it. It’s a great facility. It’s our largest fundraiser, and we’re thinking it will be the best one yet,” Helmssaid. “It all stays right here locally to help charities in our area.”
Kerry Farrell, the event coordinator, said they expected between 10,000 and 12,000 people to attend the celebration. She said the new venue has helped provide better on-site access for the celebration’s musical entertainment, including the southern rock band Blackberry Smoke.
“It’s brand new, and it’s never been used so that’s pretty cool,” Farrell said. “I think it’s going to grow. Once we get the layout figured out it’s got the potential to be really big.”
By MATT ELOFSON
Published: July 04, 2011