Published: May 14, 2014 5:32 AM EDT
Updated: May 14, 2014 9:31 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Fleamasters’ Watermelon Festival celebrates the local crop of watermelons with watermelon-themed activities, music and plenty of old-fashioned, family friendly entertainment. A big bash with a homegrown backyard flavor, the 3-day Festival rolls into Fleamasters Fleamarket, 4135 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Ft. Myers, May 16, 16 and 18.

This year's event kicks off with a hot Watermelon Salsa Dance Party, 7 to 10 pm, Friday, May 16, in the Music Hall. Immerse yourself in the bright sounds and delicious tastes of Latin salsa. Enjoy live music from the 8-piece band, El Sonido Tropical, playing a rich mix of salsa, merengue, cumbia, songo, chacha, and latin jazz. All musicians are originally from Havana and are professional graduates from one of the best Cuban music schools, "La Ena" (Cuba's National School of Arts). Get tickets, $15, on the web at, or at the market. Proceeds will benefit the children's programs of The Nations Association, a 501-c(3) charity.

Other entertainers performing over the 3-day weekend include Just Country, Banyan Bluegrass, The Dixielanders, Austin James, and the Blue Dirt Dixie Band. Both the Calendar Girls and Hot Flashz Dancers will perform on stage. Children are welcome at the Kid’s Craft Area, and will be entertained with free face painting, balloon animals, and the extraordinarily tall stilt walker Way Too Tall Torrie.

“We’re challenging folks to come out for the watermelon contests,” invites Linda Steele, Fleamasters’ Marketing Director.

There will be many chances to win. For Seed Spitting and Speed Eating, medals, prizes and bragging rights will be awarded for each of three age groups: 10 and under, 11 - 16, 16 and over. If anyone breaks the seed-spitting world record (68-feet, nine and ?-inches) they’ll win $500 cash from Fleamasters Fleamarket. Fleamasters’ seed spitting record, a whopping 50-feet, six inches, was set by Ft. Myers resident Brent Ray in 2011.

Artists, Crafters and Non-profits are invited to display and sell their wares at the Watermelon Festival Community Showcase. No white tent needed! 12x10-ft covered booths available for artists, crafters and photographers for about $25 per day. Non-profits receive great exposure and free display space.

Fleamasters Fleamarket is open for shopping, food and fun 9 am to 5 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

See the Watermelon Festival schedule and get more information on Fleamasters’ website,