Some traditions simply aren’t meant to be trifled with.
Take the Mint Julep - a traditional beverage served at Churchill Downs at the Kentucky Derby for almost a century. Officials say that each year, nearly 120,000 Mint Juleps are served during the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend.
But, there’s another tradition, and it can be found in Parker County. It’s not quite as old as the one at Churchill Downs, but it's a cousin if you will, sharing a common name that has been served at the Weatherford Peach Festival for three decades - the Original Peach Julep.
For 30 years, the employees of Weatherford Regional Medical Center (WRMC) have volunteered to take on the monumental task of serving up the tasty concoction which has become a tradition for visitors braving the heat every second Saturday in July.
“When the Peach Festival first began, organizers were looking for folks to have a booth,” Carolyn Hamilton, director of physician services said. “They approached us and asked for the hospital to participate. They suggested something for people to drink, but it had to have peaches in it.”
Hamilton said they agreed to do it and immediately a team was put together to see what they could come up with.
“We went through some interesting variations before we arrived at our ‘secret’ recipe,” Hamilton said. “Everything from Kool-Aid to Jell-O...even peach nectar.”
As time went on, they finally settled on a recipe that has grown in popularity.
Natalie Parish, marketing director for WRMC, said it takes a lot of work to pull off the one-day event.
“It’s not easy,” Parish said. “We have to put up the tent, get all of the ingredients together, make sure the shifts are covered. But, in the end, it’s a great team-building exercise. The payoff is that we have people every year say they can’t come to the Peach Festival without first buying a Peach Julep. That it's become [their] tradition.”
Executive Assistant Trudy Benet, who has worked for the hospital for 20 years, said that between 3,000 and 3,500 Peach Juleps will be served during the day. And over the last 30 years, organizers estimate more than 90,000 juleps have been sold to satisfied customers.
“They are very refreshing and served over ice with a peach wedge,” Benet said. “It has become so popular that we sell it by the gallon for those who wish to purchase it that way.”
A sugar free version is also available and all proceeds go employee activities of their choosing.
There may be some differences between what they serve at Churchill Downs from what WRMC serves on the Parker County Courthouse Square. The Original Peach Julep doesn’t contain alcohol but it is guaranteed to quench your thirst on a hot July day.