Contests, Activities, and Workshops

Instrumental Workshops

Fiddle workshop participants at River and Roots seated in a circle playing together.

Thursday, September 5

Improve your playing and learn to jam!

Make the most of your Thursday Early Entry ticket by joining the Watermelon Pickers’ Workshop. Get started on an instrument, pick up new tunes and skills, learn to jam, and take your playing to the next level! With something for beginners to advanced pickers, you’ll be ready for campfire jams and even the band contest before you know it!

Workshop participants will need a Thursday Early Entry Ticket and a Workshop Ticket to participate. Kids 12 and under are free with a participating adult.

Band Contest

Pictrola winning the 2022 Band competitin
2017 Picking contest winners The Fly Birds, with conest MC Tara Linhart

Saturday, September 7, 2024 at 12:00 noon.

Enter to win up to $500 plus a prime time slot on Saturday evening. Sign up at The Fest Store starting at 11:00 until 11:30 AM Saturday. 1st place: $500 plus a 15-minute performance at 6:00 on Saturday. Plus, a $500 paid mainstage slot at next year’s Festival! 2nd place is $300 and 3rd place is $200.

The band contest is one of the primary ways we check out new bands to hire for future events. Show off for the audience, the judges, and the programming committee. And most importantly, join in the fun! Past band contest winners include a mix of established bands and pickers who met at a workshop or while picking around the campfire at the fest. From campfire to mainstage, you never know who might win!

The Rules

Pickers practicing for the WPF Band competiton
  1. All contestants must have a festival ticket before registration.
  2. Songs should be no more than 4 minutes in length.
  3. The band will be provided with a single large diaphragm mic, no plug-in and no setup time.
  4. Contestants may be called to the stage in any order.
  5. Winners will be announced on Saturday afternoon and must be prepared to play a 30-minute full band set at 4-4:30 PM.
  6. Contestants must be registered and present at the Show Barn by noon to be counted in the contest. Bands must be by the main stage at 2:45 PM to hear the winners announced. The winning band must be available at 3:50-4:30 PM to play in the Show Barn. All members that competed must be present for the performance.
  7. No Watermelon Park Fest mainstage performers are permitted in the contest.
  8. Prizes will be awarded to the top three scores. See the prize descriptions above
  9. All contestants agree to hold Watermelon Park Fest and its affiliates free from liability for any and all damages resulting from participation in the contest
  10. No electrical instruments are permitted. All bands must be acoustic and must include either a banjo, mandolin, or fiddle.
  11. Bands will be judged on timing, taste and tone.
  12. The contest coordinator has the final say. There will be no disputes, quarrels, or arguments heard whatsoever.
  13. Have fun and good luck!

Kids Activities

children listening to a jam at the pick-nic shelter
Children playing with a parachute
Kids parading through the fairgrounds with a person in an inflatable unicorn costume

There’s something to do at the fest for the young and the young at heart. From beloved activities that have become a tradition, like the Watermelon Tie Dye T-Shirts, and Parachutes and Pinatas, to new activities like the instrument petting zoo, there’s never a dull moment. Young pickers are welcome at Thursday’s workshops and campfire jams too! Check the schedule page for more details.


Square dancers in the dance barn
People doing Yoga in the Pick-nic shelter

Music and artistic expression are not limited to mainstage performers and the dance barn. Join the creative atmosphere with workshops and experiences that make Watermelon Pickers’ Fest special. There’s something for everyone, from Thursday’s instrumental workshops, dance workshops, Yoga sessions, slow jams, and more! You’ll be ready to join the fun, pick by the campfire, or even enter the band contest!