Boy who wanted state-fruit status will lead parade for Palisade peach
The town of Palisade has offered a 12-year-old a peach of a gig.
All of the work Denver boy Nick Babiak has done to promote Palisade’s sumptuous peaches hasn’t gone unnoticed. The grade-schooler who rallied state legislators to make the Palisade peach the official state fruit will lead Palisade’s Peach Festival parade on Aug. 16 as its grand marshal.
“We want to show him that Palisade appreciates what he did,” said Juliann Adams, executive director of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce. “I think there will be a lot of people who will want to talk to him and thank him.”
Babiak, a student at Denver’s Steck Elementary School, lobbied state leaders earlier this year to name the peach the state’s fruit. He argued that because peach production represents three-quarters of the state’s fruit output, the estimated $25 million peach-growing industry provides more of an economic boost than apples, which generated $4.8 million in 2012, citing information from Colorado State University. Nick was often photographed in a suit and tie and talking to legislators and reporters. He created a Facebook page dedicated to the cause called Colorado for the Palisade Peach.
The measure passed two committees, but ultimately was killed on the floor of the House of Representatives because cantaloupe growers piped up and also wanted their food considered as the state fruit. Babiak argued that cantaloupes are technically considered a vegetable. Legislators said they didn’t want to favor one of the state’s crops over another.
In his push to promote the peach, Palisade officials were most impressed that the boy’s family had no specific ties to the peach industry, Adams said.
“When we heard about it, I thought, ‘Who is this kid?’ I thought he had some connection,” Adams said. “People always jump on things that kids do, but here’s a kid that is trying to do something not even for himself. It was not a selfish act. The public needs to know that this is what we want younger kids to look up to. He was going to the Capitol and speaking to congressmen and senators and there are adults that can’t even do that.”
Adams said Babiak and his family have agreed to be featured in the parade. The tow-headed kid with a wide smile will be riding at the front of the procession in a surrey wagon, a doorless carriage owned by Clark Family Orchards.
Adams said most Palisade folks agree with Babiak that the area’s peach should be listed the state’s fruit.
While grapes and winemaking also is an important regional crop, Palisade peaches are widely regarded for their juicy flavors.
“It’s a substantial industry and it’s a much bigger number when you add in tourism it provides for Palisade,” Adams said. “If it wasn’t for our peaches I don’t know how this town would survive.”
A full schedule of the Palisade Peach Festival is at http://www.palisadepeachfest.com.