FORT LOUDON >> The Fort Loudon Peach Festival is about much more than peaches.
Yes, a quick walk through the festival grounds on Hawbaker Road of Lincoln Way West will reveal many of the up to approximately 1,500 attendees chowing down on peach delicacies. But that walk will also show friends and family members huddled together and talking, children giggling as they jump in the bounce house or ride the miniature train ride, artisans peddling their wares, Shippensburg Swing Band playing, and even more.
Anna Rotz established the Peach Festival five years ago after thinking about how there wasn't such a festival in the area — the closest one in Leitersburg, Maryland is quite a hike. So, she went to her Trinity United Church of Christ family and asked if they would like to host the event and benefit from the proceeds.
Since the first year, the festival has gotten bigger every year. If the small sample of attendees interviewed is any indication, guests were a mix of first-timers and veterans, and depending on which group they were in, were amazed at how big the festival was or astounded at how much it has grown.
"Yeah, (the peach festival) is huge. It's much bigger than normal (other events held on the grounds)," said Donelle Bard, who was sitting in the pavilion with her family, a good friend and both of their young daughters.
Boyd said she hadn't explored the festival yet, but said, "I'm excited. I love this type of stuff."
And she loves peaches. Ideally, she would have munched on a peach donut.
Nearby, Chrissy Funk said her favorite peach dish is peach crumb pie with ice cream. With her husband and siblings, she comes to the festival every year and is a fan of the hometown setting.
A Chambersburg woman named Jan, who did not want to share her last name, said while she loves the peach cobbler and peach pie, her favorite part about the event is getting out into the community and seeing people.
Jan said she had walked through about half of the vendors, which were set up in aisles in the grass on the southern end of the festival grounds, and was surprised at how much there was.
With about 70 vendors, the Peach Festival this year was one of the first events two artisans whom Public Opinion talked to had participated in.
"I heard good things from people (so I came) to see what it's all about," said Rhonda Kauffman, seller of jewelry and candles. "It's been really — it's been a good day so far."
Across the grass and a few tents down, Angie Klouser was surrounded by her hand-crafted greeting cards — all of which feature a backward-facing rabbit hidden to varying degrees. The festival was the sixth event she has done since taking on her business, The Backwards Bunny, as a way to fulfill her passion for art and making people happy with it. She calls her style "whimsical country," and uses symbolism in her work. Learn more at her website: www.TheBackwardsBunny.com.
More art, done by about 100 artists, was featured in the annual festival art show. Artist Anne Gobin won both of the festival's awards: favorite artist and favorite painting, Rotz said.
She wasn't sure how much money the Peach Festival typically raises for the church, but Rotz said it is more successful each year. Her hope is that the festival will continue next year — which likely won't be a problem.