By Joshua Maloni
Feast on this: Over a four-day period, the Peach Festival will go through more than 10,000 pounds of the juicy, round fruit with the orange and yellow skin.
Of course, the majority of those 30,000 or so peaches will be used in the Lewiston festival's famous shortcake. For more than 60 years, people have come from far and wide to sink their teeth into fresh, sliced peaches sandwiched between cream and a DiCamillo Bakery tea biscuit.
This year, more than a dozen food merchants will compete to see who can create a new staple, which will hopefully continue for the event's next six decades. These chefs will take peaches and craft empanadas, pierogi, kettle corn seasoning and chicken wing sauce, amongst other creations.
The third annual Peach Festival food vendor culinary competition will take place Saturday and Sunday. Fairgoers and members of the Lewiston Kiwanis Club will vote on the best recipes. Event organizers will award prizes to the prime peach purveyors.
Former Peach Festival chairman and current Silo Restaurant proprietor Alan Hastings came up with the idea.
"I really took a look at the Peach Festival and said, 'What can we do to make it better?' " he said. "We have all of these really great food vendors coming from culinary backgrounds, and this is the Peach Festival. It's really a culinary festival."
"I started this competition amongst the vendors to come up with a peach-themed food item," he added. "It was a little slow to get going," because of the extra work required, "but we've got (13) vendors who are participating with some really incredible culinary creations. I'm really excited about it. We've had some great things in the past - some really delicious items. It's really brought the best out of the vendors who have participated."
This year's food vendor culinary competition entrants and dishes include:
Apple Granny Restaurant - Peach salad wrap, which is seasoned, grilled chicken salad with fresh Niagara County peaches
Babcia's Pierogi - Jalapeno popper pierogi served with grilled chicken and peach jalapeno salsa
Bryce's Ice Cream - Peach soft-serve ice cream
Butts and Links BBQ and Catering - Peach bourbon-smoked chicken wings with peach glaze
Casa Antica Italian Ristorante - Steak wrap with caramelized onions, cheese, Italian seasoning and fresh peach balsamic sauce
KP's Kettle Corn & Concessions - Peach kettle corn
Mediterranean Cuisine - Peach tempura, which is a lightly breaded, deep-fried peach
Oberst's Concessions - Peachy grilled chicken sandwich
Seas the Day Seafood - Coconut shrimp with peach colada sauce
The Spicey Pickle - Coconut shrimp bowl with spicy peach habanero
The Great Foodini - Gourmet Hawaiian pizza with ham, peach and coconut
Yakisobas - Vegetable and chicken spring rolls with spicy peach dipping sauce
El Gran Coqui Catering - Empanada de peach
Hastings said ballots will be available at each vendor's stand, ready to be used by voting fairgoers. Categories include Best Sandwich, Best Side, Most Creative and People's Choice.
"What I think is the most important category is the People's Choice category, because the food item has to have the presentation and the originality to lure them in, and then it has to be good enough for them to cast a vote," Hastings said.
Each peach item is expected to be available as part of the festival's weekend menu at the participating food tents.
The 2018 Niagara County Peach Festival will be held the weekend of Sept. 6-9 at Academy Park on Center Street in Lewiston. More information can be found at www.lewistonpeachfestival.org.