Leitersburg Peach Festival this weekend

August 11, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Thousands of fresh peaches will be for sale this weekend during the 31st Leitersburg Peach Festival at Leitersburg Ruritan Community Park.
File photo,

LEITERSBURG - For decades, thousands have traveled to the tiny town of Leitersburg for a taste of nature's candy - the peach.

The fuzzy fruits are the stars of the Leitersburg Peach Festival, which starts Saturday, Aug. 14, and continues through Sunday, Aug. 15, at Leitersburg Ruritan Community Park. The free food festival enters its 31st year as a fundraiser for the Leitersburg Ruritan Club.

But amid all the peachy bliss - peach cobbler, peach ice cream, peach drinks, peach butter, peach salsa and thousands of locally grown peaches for sale - the peach pie contest has played only a supporting role, organizers said of prior years.

"We want to get more entries," said event chair Bruce Melton. "We've only been getting five or six pies."

So on Saturday, organizers plan to launch what they've been billing as a higher-profile peach pie contest.

"As long as I can remember, there's been a pie contest," said Melton.


But Melton said the event was low-key and something festival organizers didn't publicize. He said that one year, an attendee purchased a peach pie from a vendor, entered it in the pie contest and won.

This year, contestants must bring in homemade pies with recipes attached to them, said Lynn Bibbee, the person in charge of this year's contest. Bibbee filled the judge roster with representatives from the Washington County Extension office, Lewis Orchards and a repeat baking contest winner.

Sen. Donald F. Munson will also be one of the judges, confirmed Munson's chief of staff, Rebecca Fishack.

Bibbee said judges will chose first-, second- and third-place winners based on taste and appearance of the peach pies - all of which will be auctioned after the judging. The baker of the pie with the most bids gets to pick which nonprofit gets the money.

None of the pies will be returned, Bibbee said.

Melton said the peach fest has attracted as many as 10,000 people to Leitersburg, which at last Census count had a population of 523.

Last year's peach fest raised around $18,000, Melton said.

The Ruritan uses the money to pay for Leitersburg's street lights, maintain the park and the landscaped area welcoming people to Leitersburg.

The Ruritan also sponsors the local Boy Scout troop.

Melton said Barr Orchards and Ivy Hill Farm are the main peach vendors this year. Local peach season begins in July and can continue through mid-September.

This season, peach pie bakers may notice relatively smaller peaches at the farmer's markets due to the dry weather, said John Martin of Ivy Hill Farm.

But the smaller peaches shouldn't leave bakers sour.

"Everything is super sweet," Martin said. "The fruit sugar is concentrated because of the lack of rain."

Martin said he planned to bring at least 300 bushels of peaches, mostly Loring and Harmony varieties.

Harmonies are the best for baking because they're big. "You don't have to peel quite as many," Martin said.

If you go ...

WHAT: 31st Leitersburg Peach Festival

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15. The event will be held rain or shine.

The pie contest is Saturday. Pies will be accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with judging at 3 p.m. Call Lynn Bibbee for details at 301-733-7888.

WHERE: Leitersburg Ruritan Community Park, 21431 Leiter St., Leitersburg.

COST: Free admission, free parking.

CONTACT: Call 301-797-1335

MORE: There will be at least 98 craft vendors, a petting zoo and antique tractor display at this year's peach fest.

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