Sum­mer sweet­ness

Hart’s hosts 30th and pos­si­bly last peach fes­ti­val

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE ANTOSHAK

jan­toshak@ches­pub.com

— De­spite the heat wave and a ve­hi­cle crash that backed up traf­fic on Turkey Point Road for about an hour Satur­day, the an­nual Hart’s Peach Fes­ti­val went off with­out much

NORTH EAST

of a hitch — pos­si­bly for the last time.

Scores of peo­ple worked their way through the 30th edi­tion of the fes­ti­val, which this year in­cluded five acts that per­formed in the church’s am­phithe­ater and a num­ber of tents sell­ing prod­ucts such as hand­carved wooden pens and peach cob­bler cov­ered in peach ice cream.

The fes­ti­val has been a yearly tra­di­tion since 1986, when church mem­ber Hank Passi had the idea to do­nate peaches from his North East busi­ness, Ea­gle’s Roost Farm & Or­chard. Few peach fes­ti­vals ex­isted in the area, and it be­came ap­par­ent that the event could be an ef­fec­tive means of rais­ing money for the church, Hart’s United Methodist.

Now that the con­gre­ga­tion is ag­ing and event prepa­ra­tion is less eas­ily man­aged, Hart’s UMC is con­sid­er­ing call­ing an end to the tra­di­tion.

“We haven’t made the fi­nal de­ci­sion, but this is prob­a­bly the fi­nale,” Passi said dur­ing the fes­ti­val. “Noth­ing lasts for­ever.”

A large num­ber of peo­ple showed up at noon for the start of the fes­ti­val, Passi said. By about 3:30 p.m., church mem­bers had sold more than 150 of their peach pies. Those that did not sell would be given to lo­cal restau­rants, mem­bers said.

Area pup­peteer and en­ter­tainer Jack Fore­aker sang the Na­tional An­them to start the fes­tiv­i­ties and later per­formed his fam­i­lyfriendly pup­pet act. Oth­ers sang for the small crowd watch­ing in the am­phithe­ater.

Ris­ing Sun res­i­dent Kath­leen Reed, 55, used to fre­quent the Hart’s Peach Fes­ti­val be­fore she and her hus­band David be­gan go­ing to an­other in North Carolina. But that one didn’t take place this year, so she came back to Hart’s.

Her fa­vorite thing about it?

“The peach pie, def­i­nitely,” Kath­leen. “The peach cob­bler’s good, too, es­pe­cially with a lit­tle ice cream on it.”

Younger in­di­vid­u­als, like 20-year-old Caleb Hank Passi — the older Passi’s grand­son — have been life­long at­ten­dees at the fes­ti­val. Caleb, who wore a Hart’s shirt and Ea­gle Roost’s hat to match Hank, said the two work to­gether of­ten, and he’s open to the idea of suc­ceed­ing his grand­fa­ther in the farm­ing busi­ness.

While that’s not on the ta­ble yet, the younger Passi spoke more cer­tainly about how he’d feel if this year was the fes­ti­val’s last.

“I grew up on it,” he said. “I would hope that it doesn’t end.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOE ANTOSHAK

Katie Reynolds, 78, dis­plays a peach pie on sale at the Hart’s Peach Fes­ti­val.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOE ANTOSHAK

Sierra Mait­land sings dur­ing the Hart’s Peach Fes­ti­val on Satur­day, Aug. 13.

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