A generous portion of Patrick County peaches was served with hefty sides of music and food at the Virginia Peach Festival in Stuart on Friday.
Early in the afternoon, sales of the Autumn Glow peaches and Gala apples on John Wood’s table at Stuart DeHart Park were brisk.
“We’ve sold quite a few to start with,” said Wood, owner of Woods Cold Storage.
He suggested festival-goers buy the fruit early and load it in their vehicles before settling down to an evening of music, food and friendship.
Then, he said, “business may slow down for awhile.” But Wood was far from worried, and he noted the peaches would begin moving again as people prepared to go home.
Terri and Doug Wade of Wade’s Orchards also worked to serve customers who asked for a half or quarter peck of their Jersey Queen peaches.
“We’ve had a pretty good crop of peaches, but after this weekend, peaches are about over,” Doug Wade said. “We’ve had a pretty good business. It seems like a lot of people are interested in getting the last of the peaches.”
Wade’s table also featured cucumbers, squash, corn and other produce.
Customers such as Larry and Margaret Vernon of Stuart were eager to sample peaches in a different form.
“We’re definitely going to have ice cream,” Margaret Vernon said.
“Oh yeah, we’ve got to have ice cream,” her husband chimed, as the two enjoyed their first peach festival.
“We thought it would be fun” to attend, Larry Vernon said, and noted his wife likes “to go to the craft booths.”
Other booths featured business and educational displays. For those who wanted something other than peaches, Lexington-style barbecue was available. Paul Farrar of the “Cooling With Paul” program was there, and “Mr. Pokeeto” clowned around with the children.
Music was provided by Les Moore, Sunset Jazz and Walrus Band.
Pauline Richardson of Mayodan, N.C., sampled the festival for the first time with her daughter and son-in-law, Annette and Mike Moore of Eden, N.C.
“We’re taking peaches home,” Richardson said, adding that she already had tried the peach cobbler. “It was good,” she said. “It would be nice to come back next year.”
“We’re in a festival frame of mind,” Mike Moore said, as his wife explained they also had sampled a steak and cheese hoagie, fried peach pies and other goodies and bought a cookbook.
Scott and Summer Pike brought two of their four children — Bristol, 2, and Bryley, 6 — to the festival.
Their oldest daughter, Brooke, now 13, won one of the beauty pageants associated with the festival a few years ago, Scott Pike said. But on Friday, Brooke opted to attend the first football game of the season at Patrick County High School, and their son, Blake, 9, was camping.
But the couple attends the event often because “there’s a lot of good camaraderie, and you get a chance to see a lot of people you don’t normally get to see,” Scott Pike said.
Kalinda Wycoff of Floyd attended the event for the first time with her grandson, Nick Jax, 5, who was quick to share his experiences outside the festival.
“I’ve been going to school and learning lots and lots of stuff,” he said, as his grandmother explained that Friday marked his third day of kindergarten.
Wycoff, who took a break from manning her vending tent selling tie-dyed T-shirts, said she enjoyed the festival, which she described as “nice, laid-back and easy.”
“We have gotten calls from all over the map” from people inquiring about the festival. “I think this will be one of our better attended events based on” the advance call volume, said Tom Bishop, director of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.
The festival began in 1988 to help promote the peach harvest of Patrick County, local music, crafts, food and more.