Out & About

This two-weekend event has peachy-keen fun for all

Beginning June 2 in Byron, the Georgia Peach Festival will kick off its first of two weekends of festivities, the second of which will be in Fort Valley on June 9-10.

Sandee Khoury, president of the Georgia Peach Festival, said the festival is an opportunity to honor the peach growers for their contribution to Georgia’s economy, and estimates that about 2,000 people visit the festival in Byron and more than 4,000 attend the festivities in Fort Valley each year.

Activities kick off June 2 with the Byron Historical Society Luncheon, which will be held at noon and costs $13, according to Khoury. On June 3, the festivities will begin at 3 p.m. in North Peach Park on White Road in Byron with admission, music and fireworks being free to the public.

A Kid’s Zone will be set up for children of all ages and will require an admission fee, according to Khoury. This area will include inflatables “with a little bit of everything.” In addition to the attractions in the Kid’s Zone, the park has a free playground as well as a free water pad.

If you’re in the mood for shopping, about 75 to 100 vendors will be available. Want to kick back and relax? The pre-concert music will begin around 7 p.m., followed by headliner EG Kight & the Blue South Band. Fireworks will start around 9:45 p.m.

“The music and the fireworks are a big draw,” Khoury said. “People bring their lawn chairs, bring a cooler and their families. It’s a really good time.”

Although the festival is a two-weekend event, Khoury said six people have volunteered year-round — along with family members and a few extra volunteers during festival weekends — to help put the event together. The budget comes from local sponsors and businesses, and the remainder comes from the City of Fort Valley, the City of Byron and the Peach County Commissioners, which all donate toward making the festival happen.

“It’s amazing to me what this group gets done with the budget and resources they have,” she said. “The main expense is the fireworks and the band. Fireworks cost about $9,000 for Byron and Fort Valley combined ... about $4,500 each show.”

The Fort Valley festivities will be held June 9-10 at Fort Valley Festival Park, located at the intersection of U.S. 341 and Commercial Heights.

The biggest draw, according to Khoury, is the World’s Largest Peach Cobbler, which is put together by Lead Chef Rich Bennett and his team. This 11-by-5-foot peach cobbler is 8 inches deep and will be served beginning at 2 p.m. June 10. The cobbler is made from 90 pounds of butter; 150 pounds of sugar, donated by Dixie Crystal; 150 pounds of flour, donated by White Lily; 32 gallons of milk; and 75 gallons of peaches, donated by Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley.

On June 9, Khoury said the Concert in the Park will feature a variety of bands from 7-10 p.m. as well as Quiet Storm and Tuff Enough. She said the Saturday events in downtown Fort Valley will start June 10 at 7 a.m. with the Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast followed by the parade at 10 a.m.

There will be music and entertainment all day long with local groups performing at the gazebo throughout the day. The festival will have a wide array of arts and crafts, and food vendors as well as a Kid’s Zone. The Sidewalk Chalk Contest will take place from noon-2 p.m. and the Butterfly Contest will be held from 3-4 p.m.

Another big draw will be the Beach Party at the Peach Beach, which will start at 7 p.m., said Khoury. The beach, which will be man-made from tons of sanding being brought in, will be set up in the parking lot at the courthouse, and kids will be able to play with beach balls. The concert, which will start at 7 p.m., will feature the Good Vibrations band and will take place on the stage, which will be set up in the courthouse parking lot with the beach in front of it. Fireworks will follow at 9:45 p.m.

Mike Griffin, a board member, said the concert will be a homecoming and reunion of sorts. Dennis Herbert, who grew up in Fort Valley, will be sitting in with the Good Vibrations on guitar as a guest player, and Eddie Byrd, who also grew up in Fort Valley, and is a regular member of the band, also will be performing. Griffin said that in the 1960s, both men played in a rock band called the Malibu’s. He said there were five members in that band, and when they added a sixth member, they called themselves Sixpence.

“They had a big following,” he said. “It’s a sort of reunion for them. They went to school in Fort Valley ... a lot of people who went to school with them will be coming back to see them.”

Georgia Peach Festival

When: June 2-3 in Byron and June 9-10 in Fort Valley

Cost: Most events are free

Information: For event schedule and more information, visit gapeachfestival.com