With both cool serenity and a penchant for water and musical fun, the 26-acre Watermelon Park, located on the banks of the beautiful Shenandoah River about 10 miles west of Purcellville, has something for everyone – from the child eager to take her first river-tubing trip, to the country music lover who longs for the days of Patsy Cline.
The park bills itself as “Family Owned and Operated Since 1939.” And, in this case, that old-timey notion of a business that started out doing things the right way, and has never stopped doing it, is absolutely true to fact. Today’s Watermelon Park is owned and operated by John U. Miller Jr. and Family. “Junior” as most folks know him, grew up and still resides in the old stone house which sits upon the hilltop overlooking the park.
At Watermelon Park, individuals and families can spend a few hours picnicking, make a day of it drifting down the river in a tube, kayak or a canoe, or set up camp for a night or a week. An old-fashioned camp store operation rents out or sells all the simple river and camping gear you’ll ever need, and also provides transportation to a point up river that allows you to float back down to where you started.
Watermelon Park has a reputation for being the home of many great and historical music events. The first “Bluegrass Day” was held on August 10, 1960. Over the years, performers have included Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and many more. This rich history and tradition continues today with the park’s signature event – the Watermelon Park Fest. (Upcoming musical events include the June 14 and 15 Shenandoah Riverside Festival and the Watermelon Park Fest, September 19-22.)
The park is very active in the local and surrounding communities as well, offering fund raising packages and other non-profit opportunities. Annual events have benefited the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center. Many events also benefit conservation activities focused on the Shenandoah River.
Watermelon Park is a great outdoor venue for weddings and receptions, family reunions, company picnics, church and civic groups, team building workshops, Chamber of Commerce events, and sports team outings as well.
The park is open from April 1 to November 30. Come hold your small or large event at the ‘Melon as they say.