America’s favorite pastime had a little something extra last night at the Arkansas Travelers game in Little Rock. In addition to the fly balls, hot dogs, and dancing mascots, the Travelers game held a slew of watermelon-themed activities. To promote the 45th Annual Hope Watermelon festival, a group of Hope’s very own traveled to Little Rock to participate in the game last night. These down home folks from Hope, Arkansas showed Little Rock how it’s done!
Colby Powell, of Powell’s Grocery, threw out the first pitch of the night. Powell said he was overjoyed to be chosen for this honor. “This is a once in a life-time opportunity, “ said Powell. “I am super excited that I was picked to do this. It was so cool when I walked up to that mound and saw all those people in the stadium; I got a little nervous, but really it was a great experience and I’m so glad I got to share it with my family.”
Miss Southwest Arkansas, Melody Stotts, sang the national anthem and wowed the crowd with her stunning vocals. This was Melody’s first time to sing this in such a large venue and she was elated at the prospect. “This is so exciting!” said Melody. “I sang the national anthem at a few high school games before, but never anywhere this big. It’s an honor to be chosen because my platform is “Pursuing Patriotism,” and I also get to represent Hope and the Watermelon Festival.” Melody sang again during the seventh inning and was joined by many other Hope community members to entertain the crowd with “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”
Also joining the night’s line-up was festival mascot Wally the Watermelon, aka Drake Mathis. Wally was a busy guy and could be seen spreading his cheer to ball fans all over the stadium. Wally took the field with the Chamber members and during a watermelon crawl contest, he manned the front gate greeting ball fans as they came in the door, and he danced his way through the night bringing that extra, sweet touch to the watermelon fun. Young Drake would take breaks throughout the evening to cool off and have a stadium treat, and every time he took off his costume, he had the biggest, happiest smile. Drake said he had a great time and was happy he was chosen to be Wally this year. “I’m so excited to get to do this,” said Drake. “I’m thrilled about getting to be at the game and have fun!” Drake… ahem Wally, will be around town in the coming days leading up to the festival, and will be at the 45th Annual Watermelon Festival to spread his melon cheer for the crowd.
Members of the Hope Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce went on the field before the game to share festival info and wave at the crowd. Chamber Director Beckie Moore took the helm and shared with the crowd all the great details about the upcoming festivities. When describing the night’s events, Moore said, “Festival plans are made to be shared. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to share the exciting news of our 45th Annual Hope Watermelon Festival with all who attended Thursday’s Arkansas Travelers game. The Chamber Board of Directors and I certainly appreciated all who joined us from Hope! Extra special thanks to Colby Powell who threw the first pitch, Melody Stotts who sang the National Anthem and Drake Mathis who dressed as Wally the Watermelon! What a memorable evening! Guess you could say we were ALL JUICED UP!” Beckie also visited the announcer’s booth during the 3rd inning to share more festival info with the crowd. All Chamber members could be seen throughout the night at the front gate visiting with guests and passing out tickets for a prize drawing that took place at the end of the night. The prize consisted of Phil Vasser concert tickets, a sweet, juicy Hope watermelon, and two All Juiced Up t-shirts, as well as other festival goodies.
SWARK.Today was excited to be on the scene to provide coverage and share in the fun, too! The SWARK family participated in the festivities, as well, by joining all the Hope folks when they sang to the crowd in the seventh inning. The crew could be seen all over the stadium during the night in their continuing effort to bring Southwest Arkansas breaking news and expert journalism. SWARK.Today’s General Manager, Bren Yocom, shared her enthusiasm for the night’s activities. She said, “We are so excited to have our growing SWARK.Today team here to have a fun night together and also participate in the promotion of the Watermelon Festival. We are so proud to be a part of the Hope community, and we are honored to join all these amazing, hard-working people here tonight who have come out to share what Hope has to offer.”
Many other Hope watermelon bits could be seen throughout the night including the 45th Annual Hope Watermelon Festival commercial produced by SWARK.Today. All the members of the Hope community who were present looked on with pride as the commercial played on the jumbotron for all to see. Probably the most awe-inspiring sight to see, though, was the large section in the stands filled with citizens of Hope who traveled just to be there and show their support. That, in itself, is the most telling representation of this community and what we all share. We may be small, but we celebrate big! Furthermore, if anyone needs a hand or just a little encouragement, this town is full of people who will be there, as was the case last night. The dedicated members of this community are working tirelessly to plan one of Hope’s long-standing traditions, and they are doing so during a time where each day we are given constant reminders of the uncertainty amid growing health concerns that face us all. But… that’s okay. Just as with everything else in this community, we stand tall and face it together. Last night at the Arkansas Travelers game while promoting the Watermelon Festival, that was evident for all to see. The people of this community showed Little Rock a slice of the Hope life and how to watch baseball Hope, Arkansas style!