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Jaemor Farms Peach Festival offers a sweet taste of summer
Fourth annual event allows visitors to fill a basket with juicy delights
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Sheree Anderson, left, holds Matthew Roger, center, while he stares at a peach he picked Saturday at Jaemor Farms’ Georgia Belle Peach Festival in Alto. - photo by David Barnes

ALTO — Things were just peachy at Jaemor Farms Saturday at the fourth annual Georgia Belle Peach Festival.

Festival attendees were invited to come out and pick their own peaches for $30 per half bushel. Thousands of visitors traveled from near and far to take advantage of the farm’s once-a-year opportunity to acquire some fresh “pick your own” peaches.

They also were able to shop for goods from local vendors and watch demonstrations from the Georgia Mobile Dairy Classroom.

With 33 kinds of peaches to choose from, this weekend’s spotlight was on the Sunprince and Georgia Belle varieties. Baking pies, cobblers, jellies and jams are only a few of the many uses in which these delicious fruits will be used.

“Jaemor is not quite set up to be a ‘you-pick’ farm, but for one day out of the year, we make it pretty simple,” said Caroline Lewallen, agritourism and marketing coordinator at Jaemor. “All people have to do is buy a basket at The Shed and we will shuttle them out to the orchard. There, they can choose which kind they want to pick, and then roam in search of the ripest, juiciest peaches.”

For many, the festival was a first time “you-pick” experience.

“I moved to Georgia from Florida earlier this year, but I’m originally from Boston,” said Michelle Roger, a festival first-timer. “I think what they are doing here is really neat. I like being able to pick my own peaches because you know exactly where they’re coming from, unlike going to a grocery store or supermarket to buy them. These are coming right off the trees, so you know they’re fresh.”

Returning for their second year was Leigh Ann Powell and her family from Cumming.

“I think picking peaches is a good way to bring your family together and spend time with each other,” she said. “There are three generations here today — my mom, me, and my kids.”

Among others returning were Abby Stancil, her husband Philip, and their children.

“We started out going to the strawberry festival that they hold here in the spring, and then we got hooked when they had the first peach festival,” Philip Stancil said. “We have been to every peach festival since.”

“The kids don’t like fruit from the grocery store, they can tell the difference,” Abby Stancil said. “They always ask me if it’s from Jaemor. We like bringing them along to the farm with us so that they can learn about how their food is grown and harvested.”

The farm itself has a strong emphasis on family.

“Jaemor is a family farm and it has been for the past 105 years,” Lewallen said. “The Echols family wanted to be able to share that experience with the public. After about 10 years of people wanting to be able to pick their own peaches, this festival was created, and so far it’s been a huge success.”