Winona Peach Festival
by Gary McWilliams (aka Festival Nomad)
Peaches and Cream…
I love food with peaches, peach pie, peach ice cream, peach cobbler and peach jam! Imagine my surprise and delight as I scanned through the August festival list and found the Winona Peach Festival! I went onto the festival’s website and knew that I really wanted (needed) to attend. The site included all types of peach recipes. Although there was a long list of recipes, I could only print off the ones that showed. (Darn!) I called Judi over to my computer and said “Take a look at this one! We’ve got to go!” She said “Why?” I said “Look it’s peaches!” She sadly shook her head and softly said “Okay”. The sun was shining and the peaches were “ripe“…
On To The Festival…
The festival had great directional sign, so the festival grounds were easy to find. Parking was in a large open field adjacent to the festival. Parking cost $7.00 per vehicle. This was our only festival cost; entrance to the festival is free. We crossed the road and walked to the Arts and Crafts entrance.
Right at the entrance was a booth selling, what else, baskets of peaches. We later discovered that most of the entrances have these peach booths. The Arts and Crafts section of the festival is located amongst a grove of trees.
The setting is very scenic and cool in the hotter weather. The tents in this section were laid out in rows with plenty of space for shoppers to roam and view the goods and there was plenty to choose from: stained glass, art, bird houses, clothing, music, furniture and a lot more.
This festival is one of the most popular events in Ontario, both with attendees and vendors, so it wasn’t surprising to see a number of familiar faces. The number of vendors in this area is quite impressive, so it took us a while to walk through and see all the booths.
The Arts and Crafts area is loaded with artisans plying their trade. We passed by a booth where the lady was spinning on an unique spinning wheel. The clothes in her booth were great.
Her businesses name was “Designs in Elegance”. Just as we were finishing our Arts and Crafts trek, we came to the satellite festival information booth.
We talked to the couple running the booth and found out quite a bit about the festival. It has an interesting history that can be read on their website. We left the booth with the sweet smell of peaches in the air…
Fun and Food…
Before we headed for the food area, we thought we would check out the Midway. Unlike most of the Midways we have seen at other festivals, Winona’s contained a combination of contracted attractions and community service clubs. I think it gave a great touch to the Midway.
As usual everyone was having a lot of fun, laugh, yelling and screaming, all part of the Midway experience. After we had taken a good look around, we headed towards the food area.
The food court is in a large open area. The food booth formed a partial circle around a tented eating area. As with the Midway, the Winona Peach Festival’s approach to the food court was unique.
All of the food booths were operated by area service clubs, associations and churches, and the food was excellent! After Judi and I purchased our lunch, we took it to the covered picnic tables.
The area was very crowded, but we managed to find two vacant seats. While we were eating we met and talked with many interesting people. We asked them if they were enjoying the festival, to a person they all said yes.
This was a great testimony to the festival organizers. The main part of our lunch was over, but desert was beckoning.
Of course, being a peach connoisseur, I was in heaven… peach pies, peach cobblers, peach crepes, peach everything. What to choose, what to choose? We wandered around the food court and looked at all the offerings! The Fifty United Church Women’s booth won me over.
I purchased a wonderful piece of peach pie from the ladies and was rewarded immediately, because I devoured it immediately! So much for self control! Satisfied, we decided to continue our exploration of the festival…
Old Cars and the Main Stage…
The next attraction was an antique car show. These magnificent automobiles were lined up, ready to be viewed.
Unlike a lot of car shows I have been to, the majority of these antique cars were older classics. Too many of the shows I have seen lately feature the muscle cars of the 60’s. It was a treat wandering amongst these old cars, looking at the motors and peering through the windows and the beautiful interiors.
The car show was right next to the main stage. We walked over to the stands and took a seat.
Each day the main stage’s line up was full. The daytime was geared for kids and the evenings for adults. As we started back towards the parking lot, we came across a sign that I think sums up our impressions of the festival. The sign said “Seniors Bus Service”.
For many this may not seem like a big deal, but I think it is. Most of the festivals we have visited concentrate on the large details and generally forget about the smaller details. Providing a bus service for seniors, signage on the highway and throughout the festival, 2 festival information booths and the community food court all add up to a fantastic festival, well run and well thought out.
We Congratulate the Winona Peach Festival committee, one of the top festivals in Ontario.