Sunday night in Academy Park, with an eager crowd looking on, Christine Oliveri was named Peach Queen. Her coronation capped a successful, nearly rain-free Peach Festival weekend for the Lewiston Kiwanis Club.
Sara Humphrey was voted Miss Congeniality.
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 http://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.
by Autumn Evans
The Niagara County Peach Festival is now underway at Academy Park.
Festival organizers from the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston are once again hard at work to raise money to benefit numerous Kiwanis programs for the Niagara and Western New York community. While this festival is its biggest event, it is by no means the only activity Kiwanis is involved in.
Kiwanis is an international organization with members in 80 nations across the world. Collectively Kiwanis raises about $100 million and funds about 150,000 service projects every year.
The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston was founded in 1958 with 64 members. That same year, they put together the town's first Peach Festival.
Though the Peach Festival is its most well known event, the Lewiston Kiwanis club is involved in a number of smaller-scale community service operations year-round throughout the Lewiston and Niagara County communities. Those operations include the sponsoring of service leadership youth clubs such as K-Kids, Builders and Key clubs at local schools.
"That is the basis of Kiwanis activities - assisting children all over the world, but especially in Niagara County and especially in Lewiston," said Jerald Wolfgang, a Kiwanis member since 1971.
The youth clubs are run by advisers within the schools and Kiwanis liaisons. Tina Oddy has been the faculty adviser for the Lewiston-Porter Middle School's Builders Club for about nine years.
"Middle school is a tough time for kids, because they're trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in," Oddy said. "I find that Builders Club is a great avenue for them for self-discovery."
Students in the club volunteer at different events and fundraise around the community. In September, they will run the fishpond at the Peach Festival and table a water station in the Niagara Hospice Dash. Oddy said they also do food and coat drives, monthly story hours and Habitat for Humanity work, as well as additional projects depending on what the students are interested in.
"It teaches not only character-building traits but also leadership qualities," Oddy said. "I just think it's a wonderful program, and I'm so grateful Kiwanis sponsors a program like that."
At the end of the school year, each of the youth clubs reports what they've done that year for Kiwanis.
It was at last year's meeting that Oddy was invited to join Kiwanis. She and Joy Khatib, the adviser for K-Kids at the Lewiston-Porter elementary school, were sworn in last September. She said she felt honored at the invitation.
"They're constantly giving back to the community, both monetarily and through volunteer service," Oddy said of Kiwanis. She said they frequently have guest speakers from community service organizations at their weekly meetings, and often donate money to those groups afterward.
Kiwanis also runs an Aktion Club, which gives disabled adults the opportunity to participate in community service programs. The Lewiston Aktion Club was founded in 2007 and has 40 members, all of whom are adults with disabilities.
"The club will work on a whole range of causes over the year," said Jeff Sanderson, the Rivershore adviser for the Aktion Club. He said members fundraise, hold food drives, perform street cleanups and do other charitable work.
Sanderson said the club has meaning beyond giving disabled adults a way to get involved in their communities.
"I think it also serves the purpose of influencing attitudes about people with developmental disabilities," he said, adding that it was a chance to show others what adults with disabilities were able to do.
Of course, members of the parent Kiwanis Club are also involved in charity. The Peach Festival is its biggest fundraiser, having raised more than $1.5 million for the community since it began 56 years ago. But, Kiwanis also organizes street cleanups, smaller fundraisers and donations to charitable organizations.
"People in Lewiston know that they can count on members of Kiwanis to assist them in many of the activities of nonprofits," Wolfgang said. "And in being helpful to the community itself."
After their interviews with judges on Wednesday night at The Brickyard Pub and B.B.Q., the Peach Queen contestants ventured over to Favorite's Pizzeria, which donated a tray of pizza to each of them, as well as these awesome "I Love Pizza" shirts, and a slice.
Favorite's Pizza is just one of the many local businesses that help support the Peach Queen program. Contestants will compete on stage Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m.
Niagara County Community College has long supported the Lewiston Kiwanis Club and the Niagara County Peach Festival. Now that NCCC's Culinary Institute is up and running - and garnering praise for its offerings - the timing was right for the downtown Niagara Falls campus to sponsor the annual Peach Festival peach recipe contest taste-off.
Pictured left, from left, Jerry Wolfgang, event organizer, and Dr. James Klyczek, NCCC president, take a look at some of the Culinary Institute's peach desserts. Shown below, the two stand in front of La Patisserie. (photos by Joshua Maloni)
Applications are now available for the 36th annual Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Festival 5K run, sponsored by Niagara First Choice Federal Credit Union and DiMino's Tops Lewiston, taking place Saturday, Sept. 6, at 9 a.m.
Race-day registration gets underway at 7:45 a.m. at KeyBank, 493 Center St. Registration is $20 advance and $25 the day of the race. Fee includes a T-shirt and post-race refreshments.
The course begins and ends at KeyBank, Center and South Fifth streets, and runs through village. Timing and race support is furnished by Jaguar Electric Timing and Finish Line Services. Awards will be presented to the first overall winners, male and female, and to the first-, second- and third-place winners in 10 categories, with trophies donated by A+ Accounting.
Race applications are available at all KeyBank locations in Niagara County; Stuart Sports; village offices in Lewiston and Youngstown; and both the Lewiston and Porter town halls.
Net proceeds from the race will be donated to the Care Share Food Pantry in Ransomville.
For more information, contact Randy Gorzka at 716-754-8019 or visit the Kiwanis website, http://www.lewistonkiwanis.org.
The Peach Queen contestants have been busy attending events and volunteering, and recently participated in two new events. The girls modeled ballroom dancewear and practice wear at the Dance Like A Star with Serge summer showcase on Saturday. They then had a makeup technique session with Stephanie Signorelli from The Makeup Parlour on Tuesday.
The 15 contestants are preparing for the Peach Festival festivities, which take place Sept. 5-7 at Academy Park in the Village of Lewiston.
The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston has announced a chairman for the 57th annual Niagara County Peach Festival, the three-day event to be held from Friday, Sept. 5, to Sunday, Sept. 7, at Academy Park.
Charles Barber, festival co-chair for the past two years, was appointed general chairman, reports Kiwanis Club President Dean Beltrano.
Barber joined the Lewiston Kiwanis in 2008 and has served on various Kiwanis committees. He is vice president of operations for the Western New York region at Heritage Christian Services, a member of HANCI Health Association's board of directors, treasurer of Lew-Port Youth Football and a member of the Holy Name Society at St. Peter R.C. Church.
Applications for the Peach Fuzz and Peach Blossom contests are now available online at www.lewistonkiwanis.org. Applications also can be picked up in person at The Village Bake Shoppe, Sister and Brother, Stuart's Sports or the Learning Express Toy Store.