How the McDade Watermelon Festival began.
The McDade Watermelon Festival is one of the most successful & longest running festivals in the State of Texas.
World War II was over and the soldiers came home to the little town McDade. The McDade school had burned down in 1940 & school was being held in temporary facilities while a new one was being erected. Money was needed to furnish with metal chars. PTA President, Walter Kastner, Vice president Adeilne Eschberger & Secretary Ethel Field along with the Home Demonstration Club, noticed a contest in the Farmer-Stockman magazine, in cooperation with Texas A&M University, called "Neighborhood Progress Contest" offering a $1,000 prize to the winning organization or group. The contest was to be of one that would benefit & interest to the whole community. The idea was embraced enthusiastically by all and the McDade Watermelon Festival was created. A committee consisting of President: Walter Kastner, Vice President: Arthur Kastner Jr, Junior Vice Presidents: Morris Kastner & Ernestine Wolf, Secretary: Ethel Field, County Agent C.A.Stone. Home Demonstration Agent Lena Sturges was formed to gather the information required and entered the contest. Public response was positive and spontaneous. All set about cleaning up McDade like never before and readying themselves to show off their town and the area's principal crop, watermelon.
Thursday, July 1, 1948, marks the day of the 1st McDade Watermelon Festival. It was held at the temporary school, the McCarty house. The air was full of high community spirit, a few clouds in the sky and a little sprinkle. But, as in the 76 year history of the Festival, there have been no rainout! Sandwiches, soda, ice cream, an "umpah pah" band, election & coronation of the Festival Queens and a parade were the order of the day. With a crowd estimated at 1,000 the first Annual McDade Festival was deemed a success.
The festival has grown, changed & evolved through the years. The McDade Watermelon Festival Association, Inc. charter was filed with the State of Texas, July 3, 1950. Amended bylaws were adopted in 1985, stating that the proceeds from the festival will go to organizations that fall under the category of "For the Betterment of the Community".
The Watermelon Festival organizers met their objectives with the 1st festival. Unfortunately they did not win the Farmers-Stockman prize money, they did win a prestigious Honorable Mention. They did raise money for the school chairs. They did establish a community tradition that has withstood the changing demographics of McDade. They did establish a tradition that has out lived watermelons as a prize cash crop. They did create a tradition of community spirit with the first festival that is still shared by their heirs, relatives, friends and the people of McDade community today. "FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE COMMUNITY".
This is still our motivation & drive, However due to the health and safety of all, we had to make a very tough and sad decision in 2020 to announce our first ever cancelation due to COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to seeing everyone this year at the 76th McDade Watermelon Festival 2024 on July 8th. See you all then!  Street Dance July 12th.

contact us

McDade Watermelon Festival  

143 Bastrop St McDade TX 78650

Phone:  1-512-332-1270 or +1.512.736.430


How we got started 76 years ago......

Always the 2nd Saturday in July!

Family Fun

McDade Watermelon Festival

McDade Watermelon Festival is 75 years old and our moto has always been "RAIN or SHINE" but due to COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 the festival experienced it's first ever cancelation in history!  We began with a community need and continue to support our local area teachers & non-profit organizations with grants. To the left are  2018-2022 school years Teachers who received grants. We applaud our teachers and give them a big "thank you" for all they do including volunteering their time at the McDade Watermelon Festival.

And you ask why we do it?  We do it for the love and appreciation we have for our town and for BETTERMENT OF THE COMMUNITY! The money raised from the festival each year continues to help our local school and offer grants to teachers to help their classrooms and a variety of youth programs. We've also helped our community food bank, Elgin library, historical museum & other local youth groups, including a scholarship fund for McDade students graduating High School. So, when you come to our Watermelon Festival, we want to say THANK YOU! We know you'll have a good time & enjoy small town fun with your family and friends.

Some history that was written in 1998 for our 50th Anniversary on the Watermelon Festival in McDade., Reprinted to the left for easy reading.