FORT LOUDON - Summer and socialization seem to go hand in hand. Activities like swimming, family reunions, picnics and festivals all provide us with the opportunity to kick back and enjoy each other’s company in the great outdoors. With that goal in mind, volunteers at Trinity United Church of Christ in Fort Loudon are hard at work planning an event that pays tribute to another one of summer’s great joys—enjoying the heavenly flavor of an impeccable peach.
The sixth annual Peach Festival will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 20, at the Fort Loudon Community Grounds at U.S. 30 and Hawbaker Drive. Organizer Anna Rotz said the event gets bigger each year. “It’s our biggest fundraiser and people seem to enjoy it. They bring their families and their lawn chairs,” she said.
Peach lovers come from miles around to enjoy pies, cobbler, sundaes and the perennial crowd favorite—peach cream puffs.
Early birds can grab a doughnut, coffee and a breakfast sandwich and browse the booths of more than 70 vendors who will be selling a variety of wares from handmade jewelry to pottery and purses.
There will be plenty of activities to engage the youngsters during the event, from face painting, which begins at 9 a.m., to a giant Castle Moon Bounce, to the onsite playground and a special puppet show hosted by Adam Swartz at 11 a.m. This year’s interactive show titled, “Alice and Jimmy’s Epic Rock Dream,” will engage the audience to work together to help the puppets face their fears and realize their dreams. The heroes will encounter bullies, make new friends and enlist the crowd in problem solving.
Organizers are encouraging guests to bring their cameras to capture the many memories that are sure to be made. New this year are free pony rides, which will be offered from 12-2 p.m. Smoky Bear will also make an appearance, along with everyone’s favorite park ranger, Greg Eitner.
Musician Dave Powers will entertain the crowd with gospel music starting at 10 a.m., and the smoky, mouth-watering smells of chicken barbecue will begin wafting through the air starting at 10:30 a.m. when volunteers start firing up the grills.
The food lineup also includes hot dogs, beef barbecue, fries, drinks, funnel cakes and kettle corn, so that no one will leave hungry.
Church member Sam Burns and his wife, Betty, are two of the volunteers who will be working in the kitchen during the event. Sam said his favorite part of the yearly festival is “seeing the people and hearing the stories about how they are gathering with those they haven’t seen for quite a while.” Sam said they generally cook about 180 chicken halves and always sell out.
Taking center stage at 12:30 p.m. is the Mercersburg Community Band, which has been entertaining the community for decades, and at 1 p.m. the church will host an auction with an array of items and gift certificates donated by local businesses and individuals.
With free parking and free admission, the Peach Festival is an affordable event suitable for the entire family and a great way to wind down the summer.
Volunteer Betty Burns is hoping for a large turnout. “Bring your lawn chair and enjoy a relaxing day in the country to sit back and just reminisce about old times,” she said.
Recipes provided by Anna Rotz, Festival Coordinator
TRINITY’S HEAVENLY PEACH COBBLER
I quart peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped into small pieces
1 ½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water
2 tbsps. butter, plus ¼ cup sugar
1 egg, well-beaten
½ cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
Combine peaches, sugar and water and cook until peaches are tender. Place the peach mixture in a 9x13 greased, baking dish. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the egg and milk. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to egg mixture. Beat thoroughly and pour over the peach mixture. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Serve with ice cream, milk or whipped cream.
PEACH CUSTARD PIE
3 eggs well beaten
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 cups milk
Pinch of salt
Add the eggs to the salt, sugar and nutmeg. Place a pie crust into the pie plate and spread three tablespoons peach jam over the crust. Pour the custard mixture over the jam. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
PEACHY KEEN BUNDT CAKE
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
3 tsps. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups peaches, mashed or pureed, fresh or canned
2 ½ cups flour
4 egg whites
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup almonds, finely chopped
Beat together butter, cream cheese and sugar until well blended and fluffy. Add salt and baking powder. Mix well. Add flour gradually until well blended. Add the chopped almonds with a large spoon. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Fold into the cake mixture. Grease and flour a Bundt cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Invert on a wire rack and allow to cool before removing.
½ cup peach jam
½ cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s)
Mix well. Drizzle over cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.