Weatherford Star-Telegram

Love peaches? Don’t miss this food competition that has ‘anything you could think of’

‘The trees are loaded with peaches.’ Peach season in North Texas looks to be a great one

A wet spring is helping to make the 2019 peach season this summer a bountiful one for Hutton Peach Farm in Weatherford, as well as other orchards. Peaches are often the highlight of summer in Texas.
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A wet spring is helping to make the 2019 peach season this summer a bountiful one for Hutton Peach Farm in Weatherford, as well as other orchards. Peaches are often the highlight of summer in Texas.

There’s a lot more to the Parker County Peach Festival than peaches.

However, since they are the reason behind the festival, they will once again be the main food item available on Saturday, July 13, when this year’s 35th annual event takes place in and around downtown Weatherford from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

The theme for this year’s festival is “Bounty of Peaches.” And if the past is any indication, there will be plenty of folks in town to sample the goodies as last year’s festival drew more than 50,000 people.

And folks can get quite creative with the use of peaches when it comes creating tasty treats. Just ask food competition coordinator Donna Tillman.

“We had a habanero peach ice cream entered one year,” she said. “We have had ribs, tacos, salsas and pretty much anything you could think of that contains peaches.”

Tillman, in fact, was the leader behind the creation of the food competition that began in 2013.

“After several years of no food competition, I kept asking the chamber why there wasn’t one. Tammy (Gazzola, chamber president) stated that they didn’t have anyone that wanted to volunteer to organize the event,” Tillman said. “After talking it over with several friends and co-workers, we decided that it was something we wanted to do, so we got the ball rolling.”

And it’s been a hit ever since. Folks come from all over to participate, some as far away as Dallas, Tillman said. Competition includes a dozen categories, and anyone can enter for a cost of $5 (cash or PayPal only).

“We love the food competition,” Gazzola said. “We are so thankful Donna stepped up and volunteered. Donna is a great organizer for this event because she loves to cook — and she loves peaches.”

Competition categories this year include cobblers, pies, appetizers, cakes and cupcakes, breads, cookies/bars, jams/jellies, salsa, pickled foods, savory foods, ice cream, and pizza — dessert and savory.

And remember, every entry must contain peaches. All entries must be turned in by 6 p.m. on June 12 at Barlow Hall (All Saints Anglican Church), 123 S. Waco St. Winners will be announced at noon June 13 at the Stage 1 tent, corner of Waco and Church Streets (First Baptist Church Parking Lot).

Tillman said entries continue to grow each year, and she expects around 75 entries this year. She said folks also clamor for the chance to judge the competition.

“Our competitors and judges love the competition. It is a lot of fun and gives folks a way to showcase their creativity,” she said. ”They really love the awards ceremony as well.

“We have a slate of judges, usually 12-15, and they use the blind judging method. Many judges ask to return year after year.”

Also, each year the current Ms. Senior Parker County welcomes all the entrants and has her photo taken with them. This year that will be Pat Fulfer, who won the competition in May.

“We start getting people asking in January when the competition will be, some take it very seriously,” Gazzola said. “Iron Skillet even used the winning peach cobbler recipe a couple of years ago in their restaurant.

“Maybe one year we can even add a peach cobbler eating contest along with the food competition — if we can get a volunteer to organize it.”

Tillman said proceeds from this year’s competition will go to the Roger Grizzard Scholarship Fund at Weatherford College. Grizzard was a beloved citizen known for helping families and youngsters through his years in education, on education boards, and with his popular local restaurant The Pizza Place. He died in an automobile accident in Lubbock in late May.

Treats and crafts galore

Along with the food competition, visitors to the Peach Festival will find themselves surrounded by more than 200 arts/crafts, food and activity vendors.

Visitors can get their fill of homemade peach ice cream, peach cobbler, peach pie, peach juleps, peach tea, peach smoothies, ice cream topped with fresh peaches or just plain ol’ juicy peaches, eaten with the fuzz still on.

The Kiddie Korner will have slides, rides and face painting. Many antique and specialty stores will have specials throughout the day.

Folks can also pull up a seat and sit back and relax at one of two entertainment stages that will feature an array of local talent.

Along with the festival, there’s the 30th Annual Peach Pedal Bike Ride with more than 2,000 cyclists. For more information on this popular bike ride visit www.peachpedal.com.

Cost for the festival is $5 (cash only) for adults. Children 12 and under are free. For event details on parking, map, vendors and entertainment, visit www.peachfestivaltx.com or facebook.com/parkercountypeachfestival.

Weatherford Parks and Recreation director Shannon Goodman celebrates the grand opening of Marshall Park on the north side of town. The park has been renovated with a new splash pad, the third in the city's park system.

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