There’s no doubt that Stratford has made its mark over decades with its annual Peach Festival.
This year a new mark is capitalizing on the event’s popularity as a chance to raise funds to make key improvements in town. For Stratford Chamber of Commerce president and first time festival coordinator, Jason O’Neal, the goal is using the proceeds from money made when it returns Saturday, July 19 to greet future visitors with a brand new pavilion.
“We’d like to take care of the pavilion and do it right,” said. O’Neal. “We would start on it after this festival, where people can see the progress.”
It’s a part of an overall long term project by the chamber with features including the replacement of the cracked pavilion floor, adding bathrooms as well as a kitchen and to have it partially enclosed.
The first portion will cost about $20,000 with the first phase redoing the slab and wrapping poles in cedar.
The second phase would be features like the bathrooms with an overall cost goal of $80,000, said O’Neal.
It’s part of a list of things they hope to make happen, including three more welcome signs like the one they recently put up on state Highway 19 into town that would cover all four directions.
“The concrete slab it is on is starting to break apart,” said O’Neal, noting how tables will be added to the open air part. “We want to make it a more enjoyable experience moving forward for the peach festival at the park.”
Along with the usual fundraising opportunities like peach festival T-shirts and peach ice-cream, a big new addition will be a benefit concert at the high school football field starting at 4 p.m.
Set to feature bands like the Local Neighborhood Outlaws, Mike McClure Band and Zane Williams Band, it will run until 7 p.m. that evening.