Festival reviving interest in Ridgeway cantaloupes

Jul. 17, 2014 @ 07:13 PM

Ernie Fleming said the Ridgeway Cantaloupe Festival gets bigger every year.

Fleming and others from the Ridgeway Historical Society founded the event — now in its ninth year — to preserve the area’s agricultural history.

“It really has brought interest back in Ridgeway and the cantaloupes here,” he said. “It’s been a nice little country fair that is growing and more people enjoy it. People from urban areas come and get a feel for a more rural fair.”

The festival, sponsored by the Ridgeway Historical Society and the fire department, begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and lasts until about 4 p.m.

There is no admission charge, including for the number of entertainment groups on two stages.

The kid’s park will feature a bounce house, an inflatable slide and even free pony rides.

For the first time, there will be a 5K run early Saturday.

Fleming said the organizers decided it would be a fun opportunity for people who don’t ordinarily attend the fair.

“There are always people who want to walk the 5K so there are several ways of doing it,” he said.

The Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Department will direct parking adjacent to U.S. 1.

Fleming said covered tractors will transport people from their cars to the festival area.

Food delicacies range from funnel cakes to steak sandwiches to barbecue to the famous Brunswick stew. Other venders will be selling artwork, jewelry and crafts.

Before cantaloupes, Fleming said Ridgeway had fields of grapevines.

“Before the 1870s, the French government came in and planted 90,000 grapevines to recreate their sparkling wines in the U.S.,” he said.

He said the French chose Ridgeway as an ideal location to grow grapes because of its position on the east coast.

“It is interesting that they started with grapes for wine, and now we have the cantaloupes,” he said.

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.