Pauls Valley Democrat
Such is the popularity of certain events in any small town and its growth as years pass that it gets to the point where it becomes the very identity of the community where it was created.
Come Saturday, June 20th all of Stratford will be transformed once again by the 37th Peach Festival from the park where it will be hosted to its volunteers, one of them being first year chamber of commerce member Brook Peden.
Though not a lifetime resident, she’s already discovering her own level of excitement as she learns the ropes of the massive event where planning for the next begins as soon as the current one ends.
“It’s going to be a busy day on the 20th in Stratford…We prepare for this year around,” said Peden. “It’s what the chamber does in Stratford.”
However, it wouldn’t be a peach festival without said crop, which may be turning out to be one the best seen in several years due to desperately needed spring rains, according to reports Peden has heard from growers.
Along with all the activities for everyone from kids to adults, there will be stands set up where people can purchase the sweet fruits and celebrate which grower takes home the top prize with several different varieties.
“It’s just a way to appreciate the growers and let everyone show that,” said Peden, noting how one grower has brought in several basketfuls since harvest began and that she can’t quite find the words to describe how tasty they are.
“They’re very proud of their peaches over there.”
Additionally, Peden noted how it is really even bigger than one day as it is also included along with the 78th annual IRPA Rodeo July 18-20 each evening at 8 p.m.
Much of the town pride also goes into the program put together every year where everyone can show off their local business or how they’ll personally be involved in the event.
Launching the activities with the dawn’s early light again will be the last bit of registration for the 5K Bulldog Run and 1 Mile Fun Run at 6:30 a.m. as well as the free pancake breakfast in the FFA Barn from 7 to 9 a.m.
Other early features welcoming the crowd after introductions at 9 a.m. will be this year’s Peach Royalty and songs from the top five in each category of the Peach Idol at 10 a.m.
There’s enough to keep people engaged until 3 p.m. when things wrap up including the Peach Festival Car and Bike Show where people can enter in several categories for $25, peach ice cream at the chamber of commerce booth for sale or free after the end time and games that go from 9:30 am until noon.
Other events making a return include:
• Peach Cook-Off (with entries due Wednesday, July 17 at the chamber office), Hay Toss and performances by the Chickasaw Troupe in the park pavilion at 9:30 a.m.
• Best Dressed and Ugliest Dog Contest at 10 a.m.
• Peach Judging, sack races for kids at 10:30 a.m.
• Water balloon toss at 10:45 a.m.
• Money in the haystack at 11 a.m.
• Decorated turtle races at 11:15 a.m.
• Hula hoop contest at 11:30 a.m.
• Frisbee throw at 11:45 a.m.
• Three legged race for the adults at noon.
• Car and bike show trophies at 1 p.m.
• All day helicopter rides, performances by musicians and vendors.
“I think every year it builds and changes,” said Peden. “It’s some of the best peaches around.”
For more information call the Stratford Chamber of Commerce office at 580-759-3300 or Peden directly at 580-759-3700.