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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Peach Festival Parade, 1998
Lexington Peach Festival Parade, July 4, 1998 Photo: Raymond Boozer

Lexington County Peach Festival

A celebration of the county's major crop, the festival has been held for the past 41 years in Gilbert, South Carolina, in conjunction with Independence Day festivities. It attracts between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors each year. It origins date to 1958, when 25 community officers, looking for a unique fund-raising project, came up with the idea of a festival to promote the community's major industry: the peach. Several senior citizens, recalling that Gilbert had once been the site of political speeches and barbecues on the Fourth of July, suggested the festival be staged on that day. Even now, the Festival attracts politicians and local dignitaries: until 1999, Sen. Strom Thurmond had never missed attending.

The day opens with the Peachy Fruit Contest, where peach culinary creations are judged, followed by a peach auction and parade with over 100 units winding through the main streets of Gilbert, where, not coincidentally, many of the streets are named for varieties of peaches and the water tank has peaches painted on it. During the day, various groups, bands, and vocalists entertain on a number of outdoor stages in Gilbert Community Park, and hundreds of arts and crafts exhibitors are on hand to sell their handiwork. Food offerings include southern-style barbecue, peach ice cream, peach tea, peach almond delights, peach sundaes, peach pie, fresh peaches, and the ever-popular "Peach Slush." In the evening the Peach Queen Contest is held, awarding a $500 scholarship to the girl selected queen. The day is capped off with a street dance and fireworks display. Proceeds from the event support civic and community clubs. One of the oldest festivals in the state, the Lexington Peach Festival promises to continue for many years to come.

Project materials include a four-page report and a poem, twenty 8 x 10 photographs, a 1987 post card and 1990 philatelic postmarks commemorating the Festival, and a bumper sticker. Three bound volumes of Peach Festival programs (Vol. 1 [1959-80], Vol. 2 [1981-90] and Vol. 3 [1991-98]) complete the documentation. A 1999 program is separately enclosed.

Originally submitted by: Floyd Spence, Representative (2nd 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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