Peach Fest sweetens sour year

Carol Zadrozny, left, of Z’s Orchards arranges peaches Saturday at the Palisade Peach Festival as her helper Lee Sparn handles the inside of the booth.

Palisade’s Riverbend Park on Saturday was a sea of vendors.

Homemade jewelry stands were positioned next to candy or kettle corn makers, while patrons washed it down with a daiquiri or three.

If you looked hard enough, you might have seen peaches at the main hub of the 2013 Palisade Peach Festival.

Of the three local growers who set up shop for the day at the park, only Carol Zadrozny and Z’s Orchards were dealing in peaches. The fact underscored a forgettable year for Grand Valley peaches.

“Everyone’s pretty short,” Zadrozny said as she diced a handful of Red Haven peaches.

While east-end growers’ crops have historically fared better, the trend appeared to reverse this year. All coped with losses after a sustained early April cold snap.

“It seems like the further west you were in valley, chances seemed better for warmer weather,” she said. “Usually, it’s the other way around.”

And while markets in Kansas keep calling in hopes of receiving Palisade peaches like years past, Zadrozny said she isn’t giving them good news. Overflow from the local peach crops is usually shipped elsewhere.

“We won’t be taking any out-of-state this year,” she said.

Zadrozny said she was happy to have enough for the peach festival.

“If you go to peach fest, wouldn’t you be disappointed if didn’t have a taste of a nice ripe peach?” she asked.

Others, like Phylicia Salazar of Kokopelli Farm Market, didn’t have any peaches to sell Saturday. She instead displayed fudge and fried peach pies.

“We had a 70 percent loss from the April freeze,” Salazar said. “Generally, we’ve been able to ship to stores like Whole Foods. This year, nothing.”

Bob Helmer of Alida’s Fruits figures he harvested this year about 10 percent of his normal peach crop. “We’re thankful for what we’ve got,” he said.


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