Niagara County Peach Festival to cap Lewiston’s summer season in style
The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston will present the 65th annual Niagara County Peach Festival the weekend of Sept. 7-10 at Academy Park on Center Street in Lewiston. The first Peach Festival was held in 1958 and, since then, Kiwanians have contributed more than $1.6 million in donations to area charities and organizations from event proceeds.
Chairperson Gerry Gismondi estimates a crowd of 40,000 will attend this year’s Peach Festival over the four days, weather permitting.
Gismondi reminded attendees there will be free parking available at the upper Artpark parking lot off Portage Road on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with Gray Line Tours shuttle buses providing courtesy rides to and from Academy Park. There will be no shuttle service or upper lot parking on Saturday, due to a concert taking place at Artpark.
This year, the Peach Festival is expected to serve more than 14,000 pounds – some 7 tons – of peaches, along with fresh shortcake made by the famous DiCamillo Bakery. The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston will prepare and serve the peach shortcake under the big tent on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This year’s festival will also feature 27 food vendors serving a wide variety of American and ethnic cuisine.
Kiwanians Marty Pauly and Jerry Gismondi address the media. (Photos by Terry Duffy)
The “Peach Taste Off” recipe competition will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, offering a competition of homemade peach desserts on the Alphonso I. DiMino Memorial Band Shell. Judges include Niagara County Community College Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs Josh Blumberg, chef Cathy Baron of the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, and Lewiston-Porter Board of Education member Joseph Palermo. The “Peach Taste Off” competition is sponsored by the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, the Niagara Gazette and Niagara Frontier Publications/Niagara County Tribune/Sentinel. Prizes include a $100 Wegmans gift card.
Also on Thursday night, the popular Nerds Gone Wild will take the stage at 8 p.m. for two hours of live music and “Nerdy” 1980s-themed entertainment.
Amusements of America will again be the ride company at the Peach Festival, supplying thrilling and family-friendly rides. The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston hired the ride inspection team of LJM & Associates to add a third level of safety inspections to the rides at this year’s festival. Rides also are inspected by New York state inspectors and Amusements of America.
Opening ceremonies will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, with a rendition of both the American and Canadian national anthems. This year’s emcee for the opening ceremonies will be WEBR’s veteran talk-show host and Buffalo Broadcast Hall of Fame inductee Tom Darro.
At 5:30 p.m., an “All-Star Cheerleading Competition” will be held on the band shell stage and feature local units representing youth football and all-star cheering squads. At 8:30 p.m., The Thurman Brothers Band will perform, playing until the 11 p.m. closing.
The morning of Sept. 9 will feature the Peach Festival parade on Center Street at 11 a.m. Serving as parade marshal will be WGRZ-TV Channel 2 morning show anchor Pete Gallivan. Serving as parade announcer once again this year will be longtime radio personality Brandy Scrufari. This year’s parade will feature 70 units, six marching bands and five dance units.
The Peach Blossom and Peach Fuzz contests for the youngsters will also take place on Saturday on the Academy Park stage at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., respectively.
Peach Queen Scholarship Pageant photos by Robin Clark
The Peach Queen contestants will conduct a fashion show on stage at 6 p.m., while the popular “Tribute to Elvis with Terry Buchwald” will follow at 8 p.m.
On Sunday, the stage schedule includes a dance showcase from noon to 2 p.m. Everyday People performs at 3 p.m., and the finals for the Peach Queen scholarship pageant begin at 7 p.m.
This year, almost a dozen girls from Niagara County have entered the competition vying for the Peach Queen crown and a $4,000 scholarship awarded by the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston. WGRZ-TV news anchor Maryalice Demler will serve as hostess for the Peach Queen finals.
The 2023 Niagara County Peach Festival is presented by the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston, Modern Disposal, WGRZ-TV, “97 Rock,” Niagara County, Niagara County Community College and Tim Hortons CRB Holdings. More information and a schedule can be found at www.niagaracountypeachfestival.org.
The famous Niagara County Peach Festival peach shortcake.