Peaches are Alabama’s leading commercial fruit, and more than two thirds of the cultivation takes place in Chilton County, according to the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station website.
Clanton is also home to a research center dedicated primarily to peaches. The Chilton Research and Extension Center was established in 1948 to identify superior varieties and develop new management techniques that would help Chilton County’s peach producers maximize their profits.
A bumper crop had been harvested in 1947, and a peach festival was held in Thorsby to celebrate.
According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the inaugural festival included a parade, peach queen, peach-judging contests, concerts, orchard tours, a baseball game and a dance.
The festival moved to Clanton in 1952.
The 2013 Chilton County Peach Festival kicks off this weekend with a Peach Run and a cook-off contest for adults and youth sponsored by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Chilton County High School will be hosting the Little Miss Peach Pageant, Young Miss Peach Pageant, Junior Miss Peach Pageant and Miss Peach Pageant throughout the week.
The Peach Festival Parade will be held Saturday, June 29, at 9 a.m. at Jack Hayes Field, and an auction of the county’s best peaches will follow. Proceeds benefit the Clanton Lions Club.
The highest that a basket of peaches has ever gone for is $8,000, according to the extension office website.
The ninth annual Peach Jam Jubilee will be held Friday, June 28, in Clanton City Park. The event will feature music, food and arts and crafts. It concludes with a fireworks show. Admission is free.
While in Clanton, check out Durbin Farms Market for the best fresh peaches and best peach ice cream, according to Southern Living.
The publication selected Peach Park as the place to find the best peach pie and Culp Fruits U-Pick as the best pick-your-own peach farm in the area.