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Grower and extension agent examine crop during 1950s
H.O. Headley, Chilton County grower, and "Red" Glasscock, County Extension Agent, examine peach crop during 1950s Photo courtesy Clanton Lions Club

Chilton County Peach Festival

Held each year in June since 1947 at the beginning of the peach season, the Chilton County Peach Festival was originated to promote the local peach industry; it has had a significant economic impact on this area of Alabama. This popular fruit has a long history. The Chinese were thought to have domesticated the peach before it spread to Western Europe, where the tree flourished and became a delicacy enjoyed by royalty and the wealthy. The tree was brought to the New World by the Spaniards; some believe that Hernando DeSoto, traveling down the Coosa River in the 1500s, was responsible for bringing peaches to Chilton County. Today, many varieties of peaches have been developed by cross-pollination and grafting. The Elberta peach, one of the most popular and well-known varieties, is considered to have been developed in the South.

Enjoying mild winters and warm summers, Chilton County boasts a climate hospitable to peach-growing, and has made the peach industry a mainstay of its economy. At its peak, there were as many as 10,000 acres of peach orchards in Chilton County. In the years since 1947, the festival has expanded to a week-long celebration featuring several events: the Peach Pageant, the Peach Art Show, the Peach Parade and the Peach Auction. The Peach Pageant currently awards prizes for four different age groups: Miss Peach, Junior Miss Peach, Young Miss Peach and Little Miss Peach. Sponsored each year by the Peoples Southern Bank of Clanton, the Peach Art Show awards prizes in the Junior and Adult categories to Chilton County artists. On the morning after the Peach Pageant, the Peach Parade is held, featuring floats and cars carrying local dignitaries and state and federal officials. The Peach Auction, taking place at the city park complex immediately after the parade, showcases Chilton County peach growers, who bring their finest peaches for judging on size, color, quality and taste. The top ten growers are awarded cash prizes, and the winning baskets, along with all other baskets that were entered, are auctioned to the highest bidder. Money raised goes to underprivileged children of the county and to fund a scholarship for the Miss Peach Pageant. The Chilton Peach Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1997.

Documentation for the project includes 6-page written report, six historic black-and-white and ten color 8 x 10 historic photographs, a newspaper section from the Clanton Advertiser devoted to the 1999 Festival, 3 copies of the Chilton County News tabloid covering the 1997 50th anniversary festival, a program from the 1997 festival, and a videotape, "The Choice is Chilton County," produced by the Chilton County Area Chamber of Commerce.

Originally submitted by: Bob Riley, Representative (3rd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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