"It is finally a good year," said
After a string of bad years that featured late freezes, hail, extreme heat and drought, area growers are harvesting what they say is the best crop in recent years, just in time for Saturday's Parker County Peach Festival.
The 30th annual peach festival is expected to draw more than 30,000 visitors to downtown
A record 225 vendors have signed up to sell their wares, from condominium chicken coops to homemade beauty supplies. Organizers also launched an Instagram contest, in which prizes will be given for the best festival photos.
"The peach festival is really about family and tradition," said
In past years, the festival has been forced to import peaches from other parts of
"It looks like a bumper crop," Gazzola said. "We're thrilled."
Spring and early summer rain, combined with mostly mild temperatures, have helped boost the crop, said
"Compared to the last couple of years, this is a very good crop," said Green, adding that a late freeze in April left most peach trees unharmed.
"Peaches need rain, but not too much rain," said Hutton, who has grown them for 34 years. "They need cold, but not too cold. And they can't take any hail."
Last year, three April freezes wiped out the entire peach crop at the O'Bannons. This year, the biggest obstacles have been high winds and hungry deer.
"The deer like the peaches about as much as people do," O'Bannon said. "We have to sit outside and chase them off all night."
Peach farms once dotted the
"A lot of our growers have gotten older and retired or gotten out of the business," Green said. "It's an industry you don't see a whole lot of young people jumping into. It's very labor intensive, and we have the
Still, O'Bannon said,
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