Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

July 25, 2013

Peach Festival touches lives of visitors

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — If there is anything that can be taken away from this year’s Stratford Peach Festival, it is that each person has their own story to tell as to how it not only impacted the community for the better, but their own lives on a personal level.

One example that stood out immediately Saturday was how Stratford resident Alisa Watanave utilized the occasion to raise money to give her husband, Ernesto, the best fighting chance as he waits on a list for a kidney transplant.

Selling such tasty treats like chicken tamales as well as a fruity blend of ice chest tea at a booth, the hope was to ease the blow of everything from visits for treatments to medications that cost $5,000 a month alone.

“He needs that kidney,” said Watanave, noting how for the most part he has been in good health, but they will need the biggest boost for aftercare.

“This is home for us; four kids go to school here and lived here for about 12 years now.”

Watanave noted how it was actually the first time she was a vendor, but has always loved how people are able to come together as if they were all related and enjoy the activities.

Efforts for the cause also include selling the tamales outside the event through special order or simple donations and if people can’t catch her booth at the Pauls Valley’s car show in September, she is reachable through e-mail at

“It’s very friendly and we’re one big family,” said Watanave, adding how the car show is also a big deal for the family.

No matter how residents of Stratford had lived in the community, there was that perk of feeling like a native as Kathy Minkner found out when they made it home about five years ago.

Though this visit to the event was just as special as other years, what made this one special was sharing it with her granddaughter who was visiting it for the first time from North Little Rock Arkansas.

“We came from Colorado near the Palisades, which was also a peach capitol… so it’s kind of funny we ended up here,” said Minkner. “It’s just fun to visit, catch up with people you haven’t seen for a while.”

Having something for the kids to do was the biggest advantage for Rebecca Carlson of Ada, who was going to her second festival and enjoyed watching them have a ball. Some their favorites were games like the water balloon toss or even the sack races.

“All the activities they have for the kids, things to look at, I love it,” said Carlson. “Watching my kids have fun is the only thing.”

William Mattoon of Norman was so impressed by how a small community could pull off such an event when he went last year that he decided to take his own granddaughter, Natalie Martin, who was visiting from Dallas to it. Of course, that’s not to say he didn’t have his own reason for visiting as he pointed out how the peach ice cream alone was reason enough to come every summer.

“I was really impressed by the magnitude for such a small community… So we decided to come back,” said Mattoon. “That’ll bring me back.”

Martin, who is nine years old, had her own opinion of the afternoon and was glad to share how she couldn’t get enough of the fun from the slip and slide to the hula hoop contest where she held her own against several other kids. She also thought there wasn’t anyone who couldn’t find something to do and that in her spare time is a dancer.

“I like all the fun games,” said Martin “There’s things for boys and girls.”

A full gallery of pictures for the event can be found here: