The 35th annual Parker County Peach Festival kicks off in one week and the biggest provider of those peaches residents see overflowing crates each year is Hutton Peach Farm in Weatherford.
Owner of the peach farm, Gary Hutton, said they purchased the orchard and fruit stand from a man named JK Johnson 39 years ago and have continued to keep the stand open selling not only peaches, but other Texas-grown fruits and vegetables.
“My dad use to bring my brother and I out here to get peaches when we were about 8 years old and that’s how we knew about it,” Hutton said. “This has been a fruit stand for the 39 years we’ve had it and probably about 25 years that Mr. [JK] Johnson had it. We’ve always liked peaches.”
Hutton said they purchased three established orchards from other people and then planted a larger one himself. Hutton now has about 47 acres of peach orchards.
Hutton has five different varieties of peaches — Red Globe, Bounty, Fire Prince, Flame Prince and August Prince peaches.
“It’s hard, long hours during the summer, but during the winter we get time that we can take off. A lot of people think we’re not doing anything all winter long, but we are,” Hutton said. “We’re pruning and plowing in the orchard and hauling out limbs and it’s a year-round job.”
Hutton said the rain this year has helped his peaches.
“We’ve got a good crop this year, we have lots of peaches and the rain has helped because they’re bigger than they normally are — bigger than last year anyway,” Hutton said. “We had some big ones last year, but not enough rain, so last year we had a lot more work because we had to pump water to the trees. This year we haven’t had to do that yet, the ground moisture is pretty good right now.”
As for the Parker County Peach Festival, Hutton said they put a lot of hard work in for the event.
“We just try every day to get ready for that. We take peaches to the market and a couple of other fruit stands, but we keep them pretty much here so we can build up for the peach festival,” Hutton said. “People don’t realize how many hours we stay up before that, so we’re beat by the time it’s over with. It’s a lot of hard work. Some years we sell out and some years we pick some up and bring them back here to put in the cooler as fast as we can. If it’s a big crop, it’s a big crowd.”
Along with Hutton Peach Farm, other produce vendors that will be at this year’s peach festival are B&G’s Garden, Gilbert Pecan, Wyler Greenhouses and Pop’s Peaches.
The Parker County Peach Festival will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 13 in Historic Downtown Weatherford featuring everything peachy.
“This year we have over 200 art, craft, food and activity vendors and of course, anything peachy is a crowd favorite,” Weatherford Chamber of Commerce President Tammy Gazzola said. “We have peach cobbler and peach ice cream, and then we have some new vendors that are doing some peachy treats.”
There will also be live entertainment, the Peach Pedal Bike Ride and a food competition.
Gazzola said one big thing that was added last year, and will be back this year, are the air-conditioned shuttle buses.
“We use to use school buses and last year we added charter air-conditioned buses and they were so well received that we’re absolutely bringing those back again,” Gazzola said. “We have shuttles from the [Weatherford ISD] Ninth Grade Center and Weatherford College. They’re greeted with ice cold water and we have videos of Weatherford that scroll throughout the day, so it is a very nice added benefit.”
Gazzola said the peach festival started with a group of volunteers.
“It started with a group of volunteers and the first year they had something like nine booths, it was very small,” Gazzola said. “Folks came out and just loved it, so it grew every year and here we are 35 years later and last year we had over 55,000 people attend.”
Gazzola said she enjoys being able to highlight the city each year with the peach festival.
“I kind of see it a little different than a lot of folks do, I love that we get to highlight Weatherford, Texas, and invite so many people here that might not have visited with us before,” Gazzola said. “I think when they come out to the peach festival, they do feel like they’re coming back to a county fair and they get to experience the charm of our downtown area. I hope they will fall in love with and then come back to visit us again.”
Tickets to the peach festival are $5 each, children 12 and under are free, and for more information visit www.peachfestivaltx.com or the Parker County Peach Festival Facebook page.