The Watermelon Festival starts on Thursday, August 6 in Hope, Ark. It's a fun weekend full of arts and crafts, great music, watermelon seed-spitting contest, watermelon by the slice and the popular Watermelon Idol Talent Competition.

Officials at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana are pleased to announce the college will sponsor and conduct the Seventh Annual “Watermelon Idol” talent competition during the upcoming 39th Annual Hope Watermelon Festival.

The Watermelon Festival is scheduled from August 6-8 in the Hope Fair Park. The preliminary competition will take place on the McDonald’s stage in the Fair Park Coliseum Thursday, August 6 at 6 p.m. with the finals scheduled for Saturday, August 8 at 6 p.m. on the CMC Steel Products stage in Legion Field.

Talent from the surrounding area is invited to register for the competition, which features cash prizes for the winners as well as the opportunity for the overall winner to open for Sammy Kershaw Saturday evening.

The contest is open to all singers or vocal groups regardless of ages or residency who are not previous Watermelon Idol winners. The two divisions are: single vocal or vocal group. An individual can only enter in one category. Each act will be limited to five minutes and entrants may perform with a pre-recorded instrumental track, perform a cappella or with live instrumental backing only. Thirty applicants will be accepted.

The top five in each division will be selected for the finals. A cash prize of $300 will be awarded to the overall winner of the finals with $150 awarded to the runner-up and $50 to the third-place finisher.

For more information or for complete rules, please contact Brent Talley at brent.talley@uacch.edu or 870-777-5722. Entries will be accepted through Thursday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. or until 30 applications are received. To register for the competition complete an application online at www.uacch.edu. There is no fee to enter.