Thousands head to Leitersburg in pursuit of peaches

August 13, 2011|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Crowds of people enjoy the annual Leitersburg Peach Festival hosted by the Leitersburg Ruritan Club Saturday.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

LEITERSBURG — It wasn't ideal, but it worked out all right.

Stephanie Owings got off work, hurried to the Leitersburg Peach Festival on closing day and snagged herself a peach pie just in the nick of time.

"I didn't even get to look around," Owings said.

That was last year. This year was better.

Owings, 20, of Maugansville, showed up early Saturday at Leitersburg Ruritan Community Park ready to do the day right.

The annual attendee said she first likes to hit the vendor booths. With more than 100 to choose from, she found plenty to buy. Only then, clutching bags full of wall art, birdhouses and ripe, fuzzy fruit, did she gear up for the grand finale — the peach pie.

"They make them homemade," Owings said. "They are better than anything. I don't eat dinner. I just eat the pie and I'm good. I'll have this pie gone by tomorrow, if it takes that long."

Thousands of people gathered for the annual affair, standing in constant, moving lines in pursuit of all things peaches.

Leitersburg Ruritan Club member, Bruce Melton, a festival coordinator, said peach pie and peach ice cream are crowd favorites. He estimated that the club would sell about 700 pies and nearly 400 gallons of peach ice cream throughout the two-day event.

Besides the eating and shopping, attendees browsed an antique tractor display and treated their children to a petting zoo, pony rides and a barrel train.

Heather Saville of Keedysville and her friend Rachel Kline of Smithsburg, both 29, remember attending the festival — which now is in its 32nd year — when they were kids. Now, they take their own children.

"We like the peach ice cream. The kids like the pony rides, the barrel train, the moon bounce," Saville said. "We all have a lot of fun."

Before she went home, Saville said she planned to pick up pies for some elderly people at the nursing home where she works, and some fresh peaches for making cobbler.

David Shoup, 47, of Hancock, was drawn to the festival by memories of peach salsa.

"I stopped here one year for peaches and discovered the peach salsa. Then, I was living in New Zealand and I missed (the salsa) for two years," he said. "Now that I'm back, I came back to get some."

His mother, LeEsta Shoup, 84, also of Hancock, said she had her eye on the ice cream.

"It looks so delicious," she said.

Jennifer Egupov, 34, of Smithsburg, took her children and a niece to a vendor booth, where artist Kent Roberts sketched their caricatures.

"We just like to shop around and let the kids have some fun," Egupov said.

Ivy Hill Farm and Barr Orchards, both of Smithsburg, provided peaches for the event.

Melton said the peach festival is the Leitersburg Ruritan Club's only fundraising event. Club treasurer Tom McCall said the festival typically grosses about $30,000.

Melton said the club provides services and equipment for the town of Leitersburg, which is unincorporated.

"We've paid for the streetlights, and we maintain the park, the playground and the common grounds," he said.

The club also gives monetary support to area Boy Scouts, and assists local families in emergency and crisis situations.

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