Watermelon Wednesdays began in 2000 as the outgrowth of occasional West Whately community cultural events including natural history presentations, contradances, and neighborhood potluck-lecture events. The West Whately Chapel, built in 1896, is the home of Watermelon Wednesdays. The chapel is owned by the Whately Congregational Church and used for eight or so Sunday services in July and August. The chapel is maintained primarily by residents of the village of West Whately.
The idea of having a summer concert series featuring out-of-town musical acts was the "brain-child" of Paul Newlin and Rani Arbo. Paul had tried to generate interest in using the chapel for neighborhood pot-lucks and dances, similar to what David Kaynor had been doing at the Montague Grange Hall. However, after numerous attempts to drum up interest in such events, Paul decided that simply staging concerts with somewhat established performers would draw better. He and Rani coined the name Watermelon Wednesdays with the idea that it would be easier to book better known acts on a Wednesday evening as bands tended to have gigs in New York and Boston on the weekends. The name was adopted for its alliterative appeal and because everybody like watermelons! Rani's band at the time, Salamander Crossing, was on of the first acts. She and they have returned several times as Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem.
The goal of Watermelon Wednesdays, now a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, nonprofit educational organization, has been to foster interest and appreciation of the acoustic musical arts by offering concerts and workshops and by disseminating the music via video over the internet. (Many past shows can be seen on youtube.)