The Watermelon Thump begun in 1954, when Luling Elementary School Principal Hermon Allen suggested that a celebration be held to honor local growers of watermelons and tomatoes. A contest was held to name the event, and the winner was a senior at Luling High School – Carroll Ferguson.
After a few years, the tomatoes got lost in the shuffle and the watermelon emerged as the star of the festivities.
Approximately 3,000 slices of ice-cold watermelon were served free of charge to visitors at the 1st Annual Thump and now, 62 years later, the festival is still going strong with an attendance of over 35,000 Thumpers! The Thump now hosts a carnival with kiddie rides, beer garden, over 15 food booths, arts & crafts competition, children’s entertainment, dances, shaded exhibitor’s market, queen’s coronation, champion melon judging and auction, gospel jubilee, salute to veterans on Sunday, World Champion Seed Spitting Contest with cash prizes, a GIANT parade, melon eating contests with cash prizes, a large classic car show on Sunday and much more!
If that wasn’t enough, they decided to add even more excitement this year: The Watermelon Jam Battle of the Bands!
In collaboration with the Luling Watermelon Thump Festival we launched the Battle of the Bands contest a few months ago, with the grand prize of $1,200 and a chance to open for Jason Boland and William Clark Green at the Festival on June 25th! We received over 40 entries, and after days of analyzing and discussing the entries, we were able to narrow it down to 10 contestants.
The contestants gathered in Luling for the Watermelon Jam Battle of the Bands on April 30th to perform a 30 minute set in front of hundreds of fans and a panel of judges. After all contestants performed their set, Sam Riggs closed out the evening while the judges tallied up their scores. Once the panel reached their decision, they announced the winning contestants: The Hunter Rea Band!
“We were pretty fired up and proud of each other” Hunter Rea front-man Hunter Glaske told us. “We all got together a few months back and agreed to give music all we had for the next year and knew winning this battle of the bands could help us out a lot”
Not only did they win, but they also enjoyed making some new friends along the way. “The talent was unreal – – check out The Gibbonses and the Powell Brothers to name a few – – so hanging out for a few hours afterwards with those guys, and what felt like the whole town of Luling, was pretty cool” they told us.
The band members all met while attending college in Belton, Texas. They started with acoustic gigs and more of a country sound, but over the years, as they progressed in to a band, they evolved in to more of a Texas roots/Americana feel.
The group feels like they have really found their sound, and winning the contest was confirmation of that. Sharing the stage with two of the biggest names in the Texas/Red Dirt Scene, William Clark Green and Jason Boland is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
“We’re big fans of both of those guys, but haven’t had the chance to share the stage with either yet. Boland was one of the first concerts I ever went to, and Will is a guy I really look up to in the scene. Will and I are actually from the same small town in East Texas called Flint, so it’s been a goal of mine for a long time to open for him” said Glaske.
The group is currently finishing up their first full-length record, and plans on releasing a single to radio in the next couple of months. In the meantime check out the acoustic video below, and be sure to catch them at the Watermelon Thump in Luling next Saturday the 25th! Also, be on the lookout for next year’s competition!
The festival’s full lineup and more information can be found here > http://www.watermelonthump.com/
More information on the Hunter Rea Band can be found here > http://www.hunterreaband.com/