A little bit about where we have come from and where we are going…
It all started back when….
Mr. John U. Miller Sr. purchased the 300 acre farm in 1939. Mr. Miller Sr. and his family proceeded to turn the 26 acres of river front into a thriving Watermelon Field and opened the Miller Fruit Stand on the corner of Rt. 7 and Chilly Hollow Rd. (Today it is known as Nall’s Market). In 1942 Mr. Miller started a “Watermelon Festival” that would feature a variety of old-time games and activities, plus a Fiddling Contest. He would also carve up a truck load of watermelons and personally hand each guest a free slice!
Mr. Miller Sr., having a great appreciation for the new genre of music being played in the area known as “Bluegrass”, teamed up with Don Owens, a music promoter, and together they founded “Bluegrass Day”. Held on August 10,1960 right here at Watermelon Park! This date marks the birth of the disputably very first Bluegrass Festival in the country! As the festival grew folks would simply sleep in the fields after the show. Mr. Miller saw a demand for a camping area and they turned the ol’ watermelon patch into Watermelon Park Campground. As the old saying goes… “the rest is history!” Watermelon Park has been host to many, Bluegrass and Country Music Festivals in years past, featuring some of the biggest artists in the music industry. The short list includes…
Merle Haggard, Randy Waller & The Country Gentlemen, The Statler Brothers, Don Reno, Red Smiley, Dolly Parton & Porter Wagner, Ralph Stanley, The Carter Family, Carl Smith, Ray Price, Earnest Tubb, Sonny James, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, The Wilburn Brothers, Johnny Horton, Lil’ Jimmy Dickens, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Marty Stewart,
and many, many more! Even a handful of movie stars have graced Watermelon Park in the day…Lash LaRue, Al “Fuzzy” St. John and Smiley Burnett. Watermelon Park today and tomorrow… Today’s Watermelon Park is owned and operated by John U. Miller Jr. & Family. “Junior” as most folks know him, grew up and resides, in the old stone house which sits upon the hill top overlooking our beautiful park and the Shenandoah river. Once you have met him you will see why this country gentleman is a stranger to no one. Mr. Miller loves hearing the laughter of children, playing and swimming, on a warm summer’s day down at the park! Try to catch him on his golf cart as he makes his rounds and he will be sure to pass along a wave and a smile!
We are known for being a Family-friendly Campground offering a variety of recreational activities including Tubing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Soccer, Volleyball, Fishing, Swimming and so much more! Watermelon Park is also very supportive and active in the local community.
Watermelon Park has also grown into a great Event Venue! We are host to many different types of venues such as…Weddings, Corporate Outings, Family Reunions, Church and Civic Groups, Birthday Parties and more! (See our Events page for more details.) Plus…
We are home of the famous Watermelon Park Fest. This 3-day event is one of the premier Bluegrass Festivals in the area. (Please visit www.watermelonparkfest.com) This great festival is brought to you in partnership with Shepherds Ford Production & Watermelon Park.
Pictured above L-R: Del McCoury, Jerry McCoury, Frazer Watkins, David Van Deventer, John Miller, Bobby Osborne
We are continuously making a concentrated effort to improve, both the facility and our ways of operation. We want to provide our visitors the best possible experience during their stay with us! We have a great vision for the future development of Watermelon Park. We want to ensure many generations to come, will be able to enjoy the splendor and history of Watermelon Park, Bluegrass Music Festivals and the beautiful Shenandoah River.
The Miller Family and the staff of Watermelon Park, greatly appreciate your business and continued support. We hope to see you soon…
Down at the ‘Melon! Let’s go Tubin’!
We would like to invite you, your family and friends to come join us for some fun in the sun! While you are here you can spend your day relaxing along the banks of the river soaking up the sun or cool off with a lazy river float trip on one of our river tubes. You may want to choose to spend a few hours, a day or an entire night, canoeing or kayaking down the State Scenic Shenandoah river! Please check out our Recreation Page for all of the details. We are tucked away into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and nestled along the tranquil Shenandoah river in beautiful and rural Clarke County, Virginia. Watermelon Park is also a great venue for weddings, company picnics, family reunions, Church groups, scout troops and so much more.