Old Town throws Peach Party celebration

Employees of the Wawona Fruit Tree Stand were out at Old Town’s annual Peach Party selling peaches and handing out samples of fruit cups, peach jewels and gems. VALERIE SHELTON/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

A local tradition for 23 years, the Peach Party got underway July 13 in Clovis during Old Town’s Farmers Market. From 5:30 to 9 p.m., hundreds of guests braved high temperatures to visit this special event. Sponsored by Wawona Frozen Foods, the popular peach celebration showcased all kinds of food items using the tasty fruit.

Peaches for the party were provided by Wawona’s Peach Tree Fruit Stand on Nees and Minnewawa avenues across from Veterans Memorial Stadium. From its tent at Fourth and Pollasky, Wawona Frozen Foods handed out over 8,000 complimentary samples of fruit cups and scrumptious peach jewel cookies and popular gluten-free peach gems, to appreciative visitors. For the party, the cookies were ready to eat; normally they are sold frozen so customers can bake them at home to enjoy.

The March rains made Wawona’s peach trees happy; the result was a very healthy 2018 crop.

“We’ll have growers picking through October this year,” said Executive Assistant, Blair Smittcamp-Martin.

Part of the produce is sold fresh at the fruit stand or used right away while part is frozen for later use.

Merchants and vendors had a wealth of peach-inspired dishes to give visitors an epicurean adventure: pizza, tamales, soup, funnel cake, ice cream – just about anything that could use the succulent peach. Two Cities Coffee Roasters even had a peach sorbet and a peach tea.

“We’ve had a great crowd,” said Mario, a vendor who was selling yellow and white peaches along with nectarines and other produce. “A lot of people want the freshly picked peaches just to eat … then others want to make jam, jellies and desserts. This is the time of year to get your favorites.”

The peach season runs from May to October, with different varieties ripening throughout the six months. According to The Statistics Portal, California produced over 541,000 tons of the fruit last year, making The Golden State by far the top peach grower in the country.

“About every two weeks we have a different variety at the fruit stand,” says
Wawona’s Linda Smittcamp.

Not only could visitors sample and buy the delicious fruit, they could learn to prepare their favorite peach dishes. Chefs from the Institute of Technology’s culinary arts department gave cooking demonstrations, answered questions and handed out recipe cards.

“This has been so much fun,” said Jesse, a visitor from Hanford. “I’ve eaten my way though the market party and will go home with lots of fresh food and instructions on new ways to prepare them.”