Preview by Allison Deutschman
The Niagara County Peach Festival, the largest midway in Niagara County, combines delicious local food and fair treats, more than 40 classic carnival rides and games, as well as musical entertainment and competitions. This excitement and all of these activities can be summed up into so many words, but Lewiston Kiwanis Club organizers invite you to come to Academy Park next weekend and experience the festival for yourself. Partake in some of the most popular foods, enjoy the peach shortcake and ride the rides.
Kiwanian Charles Barber, 2014 Peach Festival chairman, anticipates attendance for the annual family favorite will exceed that of previous years.
The festival's namesake fruit, the peach, again will be provided courtesy of Bittner-Singer Farms. Jim Bittner is supplying more than 13,000 pounds (6.5 tons) of Niagara County peaches. Many of the peaches will be paired with DiCamillo Bakery shortcake to create the festival's signature dessert. Additionally, fresh peaches, other produce and desserts will be available for purchase all three days at a farmer's market on festival grounds.
Work up an appetite for all of the sweet treats readily available at 21 different food vendors by watching the 21st annual cheerleading contest, sponsored by DiMino's Tops Lewiston, at 5 p.m. Friday on the Academy Park stage. Area cheerleading groups and youth football cheerleading squads will perform for your entertainment.
For the peach chefs in the area, the finals of the Peach Dessert Recipe Contest sponsored by the Niagara County Culinary Institute and Niagara Gazette will be held at 6 p.m. at the Peach Festival tent. The general public will witness a Food Network-esque competition, with local judges sampling 10 dessert dishes. The winner will receive a $200 gift card.
Unyts will conduct a blood drive from 4 until 8 p.m. on the Portage Road side of Academy Park. Those interested in donating should look for the Unyts service vehicle.
Afterward, take a break; enjoy some game booths, carnival rides and entertaining stage acts.
Come back bright and early at 9 a.m. Saturday for the 5K run, sponsored by Niagara's Choice Credit Union.
"The 5K run will have one of its largest fields," said run chairman Randy Gorzka.
The run will start and finish in front of KeyBank on Center Street. All of the proceeds from the run benefit the Care and Share Food Pantry in Ransomville.
The Peach Festival Parade, sponsored by First Niagara, follows the run at 11 a.m. With more than 100 units, made up of marching bands, majorettes, floats, fire companies, cheerleaders, football teams, color guards, precision drill teams, politicians, Peach Queen contestants and the reigning Peach Queen, Peach Fuzz and Peach Blossom, this is a one-of-a-kind display.
The Peach Fuzz and Peach Blossom contests attract more than 50 contestants and will occur both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The dance showcase, with 10 area dance companies involved, will take the stage from noon to 3 p.m. Sponsored by HealthNow, the event is made up of dancers of all ages and abilities.
Dixie Style Music Group will perform Saturday and Sunday, sponsored by Cornerstone Credit Union.
Elvis impersonator Terry Buchwald will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday.
To conclude the festival at 8 p.m. Sunday, Peach Queen contestants will compete for the crown title. Chairwoman Jennifer Pauly said the largest festival crowd appears for the finals.
The Kiwanis Media Award also will be presented Sunday evening.
A great deal of work goes into the Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Festival every year, but the rewards are greater. Profits from the festival are given directly back to the community.
"For the past 10 years, $500,000 in goods and services have been contributed to over 50 organizations throughout Niagara County," Barber said. Since 1958, the Lewiston Kiwanis Club has donated more than $1 million to area organizations.
The combination of these financial numbers and the memories created at the Peach Festival are what give this end-of-summer event true value.
Kiwanis organizers said visitors could look forward to a host of parking improvements this year, making the Peach Festival experience more enjoyable for large crowds.
Thanks to the cooperation of DiMino Tops Lewiston, Artpark & Company and the Village of Lewiston, a free shuttle will transport guests to and from Academy Park. Artpark & Company officials are offering free parking in their upper lot from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
Festival hours are 5-11 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Handicap-accessible parking will be available at DiMino's Tops and on Center Street along the north side of the festival grounds, between Eighth and Ninth streets. The free festival shuttle also will provide handicapped-accessible transportation from the Artpark parking lot.
On Sunday, Tops will be closed after noon for an employee picnic. The DiMino family is allowing Lewiston Boy Scout Troop 855 to assist those looking for parking in the supermarket lot for a nominal fee. Free handicapped parking will be provided per usual.
At www.lewistonkiwanis.org, the general public can access a parking and traffic information guide for more advice on coming to and from Lewiston during this busy September weekend.