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A peach of a festival

Annual 'family affair' gradually getting bigger

Annual 'family affair' gradually getting bigger

August 12, 2007|By PEPPER BALLARD

LEITERSBURG - Pecks upon pecks of sweet peaches from Ivy Hill Farm and Barr Orchards left the 28th Annual Leitersburg Peach Festival in the hands of hundreds of fruit fans Saturday.

The festival, which continues at noon today at Leitersburg Community Park, has always been a hit for Ivy Hill Farm, said John R. Martin, who co-owns the family farm with his son, John S. Martin.

Apples are the Smithsburg Pike farm's biggest seller, but the orchard's peaches, which have been made sweeter by the summer's dry weather, were the center of attention Saturday.

"Everyone wants the best: The biggest, the sweetest, the juiciest and the prettiest," Martin, 73, said with a smile.

While the event was a family affair for many of its participants, it also was a family affair for the Martins, said Martin's grandson, 17-year-old John Timothy Martin.

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"It's always fun to get together with everybody and work," the 17-year-old said.

Workers at Barr Orchards, which is also in the Leitersburg and Smithsburg area, were also busy selling their peach fares Saturday.

Ray Johns, festival chairman, said more than 1,000 peach pies, which are made by a Westminster, Md., bakery, are sold at the festival each year. On top of that, more than 300 gallons of peach ice cream are traditionally hand-dipped over the course of a festival weekend, he said.

Members of Leitersburg Ruritan Club, which sponsors the event, were busy serving up sandwiches to the hundreds of people who came to the festival.

"It's gradually getting bigger. We're turning it more into a family festival," said Johns, who was eating a bowl of peach ice cream.

Children giggled as they chased around chickens at Shank's Exotic Petting Zoo, which was set up not far from the craft vendors and supplied by Huyetts-area farmer Gary Shank.

To Mike Fling and Bev Custer the peach festival marks the kick-off of a string of craft fairs through the end of summer that the couple enjoys.

The couple was looking at a beach-themed sign hanging at a vendor kiosk.

"Only Bev could go to a country fair and buy something from the beach," Fling said with a laugh. Custer had already bought a beach-themed purse.

Although crafts were aplenty, not all vendors were selling them.

Robert L. Saunders, an author who grew up in Washington County, was selling his latest book, "Gathering of Cans," to eventgoers. By 1:30 p.m., Saunders had sold more than 20 books, he said.

"People here are so easy to work with and very pleasant," he said.

If you go ...

What: 28th Annual Leitersburg Peach Festival hosted by Leitersburg Ruritan Club

When: Today, noon to 5 p.m.

Where: Ruritan Community Park, behind the Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Company's fire hall at 21431 Leiter St., Leitersburg

Free admission and parking. For more information call 301-797-4419

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