Clay Walker, Jeff Bates to perform at 2024 Watermelon Festival 

Clay Walker is one of the musicians scheduled to perform at the 68th Annual Panhandle Watermelon Festival in June in Chipley. [CONTRIBUTED]

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As summer approaches, excitement is mounting for the 68th Annual Panhandle Watermelon Festival–set to take place at Jim Trawick Park in Chipley on Friday, June 21, and at the Ag Center in Chipley on Saturday, June 22. 

Since its inception in 1969, the festival has evolved into a local tradition, drawing thousands of visitors each year to celebrate the region’s rich heritage and abundance of watermelons.

The roots of the Watermelon Festival trace back to a humble beginning in 1956, when approximately 100 individuals gathered to commemorate the end of the harvest season. Over the years, the festival has grown exponentially, attracting over 5,000 attendees in 2015 and continuing to expand with each passing year.

In 2023, the festival witnessed record-breaking attendance, with over 10,000 people flocking to see performances by country music luminaries Colin Raye and Easton Corbin. Building upon this momentum, organizers have unveiled an impressive lineup for this year’s event.

Country music sensation Clay Walker is set to headline Friday night’s festivities, bringing his signature blend of heartfelt lyrics and infectious melodies to the stage. With a career spanning over three decades, Walker has amassed an impressive collection of hits, including chart-toppers such as “What’s It to You,” “Live Until I Die,” and “This Woman and This Man.” 

His platinum-selling albums and numerous accolades underscore his status as one of country music’s most enduring stars.

Joining the lineup on Friday evening is the legendary band Exile, whose illustrious career has spanned six decades and transcended both pop and country charts. Best known for their chart-topping hit “Kiss You All Over,” Exile has enjoyed a string of successes, including ten No. 1 singles on the country charts. 

Their enduring popularity and dynamic live performances continue to captivate audiences around the world.

Saturday’s festivities at the Chipley Ag Center will feature performances by country artists Jeff Bates and Grace and Grit. Bates, a chart-topping artist signed to RCA Records, will showcase his soulful vocals and heartfelt lyrics, while Panama City’s own Grace and Grit will bring their unique blend of country music to the stage, ensuring a day filled with toe-tapping tunes and memorable moments.