Anyone with a love for peaches has only one destination this coming Saturday, Aug. 16. That's when Wesley United Methodist Church, 8412 Richmond Avenue, just off Route 1, will hold its seventh annual Peach Festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
With lots of good food, entertainment, games, displays and educational session by Fairfax County police and fire personnel, health screening, karaoke competition, and model railroading exhibits, it's a day filled with family-friendly fun for all ages. And, its all free — including the hot dogs, hamburgers, and the stars of the day, a wide variety of peach deserts.
"It all got started by a church member couple who also owned an peach orchard. However, one year the peaches weren't ripe when the festival was held, which was earlier in the summer at that time, so we had to get peaches from another source," said Nora Rudd, chair, Desert Committee. The couple who owned the orchard have since left the area, according to Rudd.
Each year volunteers prepare a variety of peach delicacies that include peach pie, peach cobbler, peach ice cream, and even peach salsa. "The peaches are distributed to the various volunteer cooks the day before the festival in our Fellowship Hall. They pick them up and decided what they want to prepare," Rudd said. For the past couple of years the peaches have been purchased from Rohrer's Produce on Richmond Highway.
"Our crowds have been increasing. If the weather is good we get about 500 people over the course of the festival," said Mary Pryor, chair, Peach Festival Publicity.
Three years ago the church produced a Peach Festival Cookbook. However, most attendees "prefer to eat the peach deserts rather than learn how to make them," according to Rudd. "Not very many people picked up a copy of the cookbook even though it was free," she said.
One of the big attractions is the dual model railroading display in Fellowship Hall. Crescent Model Railroaders creates a large display that includes multiple HO gauge trains traveling through a variety of venues. It consumes most of the hall's floor area.
Last year a new element was added to the model railroading display by the Washington Metropolitan Area Lego Train Club. This latest addition to model railroading, Lego Trains and accessories, will return this year, according to Pryor.
Other festival highlights include a moon bounce, crafts, a host of children's games, face painting, horseshoe pitching, and demonstrations by Terry's School of Dance and Nichol's Defense Academy. Live music will be from The Peach Boys.
Beginning in 2001, the festival is part of the church's community outreach program. In 2004 the church celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
The essence of the festival is probably more meaningful this year than at any time since its initiation due to the overall economic picture. As Wesley UMC Minister Tony Forestall stated last year, "At every turn today, economics impacts our lives. We want those visiting the festival to be free from economic decisions and their impact for one day — to just enjoy an old fashioned community gathering."
For additional information about the festival as well as location and directions visit the church's Web site at <a href=http://www.wesleyva.org>www.wesleyva.org</a>. Many of the peach recipes can also be found on that Web site.