A warm, fuzzy peach festival

August 09, 1998

Peach FestivalBy MATTHEW BIENIEK / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer [enlarge]

A packed Leitersburg Community Park meant everything was peachy at the 19th annual Leitersburg Ruritan Club's Peach Festival.

And around here, peach pie is a serious matter. And serious matters bring strong opinions.

Judges at a homemade peach pie contest held at the festival Saturday managed to agree on the winners - Susan Drury of Greencastle, Pa. for her almond- and crumb-topped open faced pie and Pam Jones, also of Greencastle, for her closed-top pie.

Jones placed second in the contest last year. What secret gave her the winning edge this year?

"Once I have the ingredients in the pie shells, I put two tablespoons of peach Jell-O in. That gives it the extra zest," she said.


Some of the pies arrived just from the oven, and when cut for placement on the judges' paper plates, a moist odor of peaches filled the air.

But before the judges settled on the winners, they disputed how to eat a peach pie.

"With ice cream - it has to be vanilla," said Jeanette Barton, one of the judges.

"That ruins it. If you're going to eat pie, eat pie," said Clyde Mongan, one of the judges along with Barton and Margaret Byrd - all members of Leitersburg Grange No. 361. State Delegate Sue Hecht, D-Washington/Frederick, completed the judicial quartet.

"Actually, it's best to use a fork," joked Mongan, ending the debate.

Good things to eat were everywhere, from fruit to nuts and roast beef. Some people even had trouble finding plain old peaches.

"I haven't seen them yet," said Mary Miller of Waynesboro, Pa. She brought her sons, Ryan, 8, and Adam, 4, to the festival.

Ryan said he liked the petting zoo best.

"They trained the goats not to bite," he said. Ryan said he had not been bitten by a goat before, but once had his toe stomped on by a horse.

"But it didn't hurt," he insisted.

Ryan's brother Adam was taking a pony ride.

About 400 children would ride the ponies during the two-day festival, said Murray Wibberley, who runs the pony rides along with Bridget Spielman.

More things to eat

The Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Company No. 9 relies on its food sales at the festival for a good part of their funds, said treasurer Mike Kipe.

Kipe said the firefighters served 540 sandwiches by 12:40 p.m. Saturday. The fire company serves roast beef, hot dogs, and steamers.

"We hope to sell 1,000 today," he said.

Those tired of fruit could go to nuts. Freshly roasted peanuts, that is. Charles Rake, owner of Greencastle Coffee Roasters, is in his second year of selling nuts at the festival.

An 80-year-old coffee roaster turns behind his tent, roasting peanuts - sending sweet rich smell towards the craft booths.

Filling pound, half-pound, and quarter-pound plastic bags with peanuts, Rake said roasters like the one he was using have not been made since the 1930s.

Re-enactors, too

And even the Civil War found a way into the peach festival.

The 6th Maryland Volunteer Infantry, a group of re-enactors, encamped on a hill behind the petting zoo, where Roy Benedict of Frederick, Md., and 10 other soldiers and civilians set up a camp of three tents and a fire.

It's hot, and a lot of people are looking at you - but so far its been worth it," said Katherine Laycock of Silver Spring.

Katherine, 14, wearing a full-length dark green Civil War-era gown, was participating in her first re-enactment. The dress was not an original, but made from a pattern from the time, she said.

Of course, there were peaches for sale - lots of them.

Brian Barr sat eating peach ice cream next to his 3-year-old daughter, Linda. Barr's family owns orchards in Smithsburg and in Pennsylvania.

Barr expected the family to sell 300 baskets of peaches Saturday. They always run out, he said. But they have more than enough to sell.

"Its been a plentiful crop this year," he said.

The festival continues today from noon until 6 p.m. at Leitersburg Community Park, six miles north of Hagerstown on Md. 60. Admission is free.

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