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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Great NOTL Summer Walkabout: The annual Peach Festival
Two NOTL peach festivals are on this weekend. File/Richard Harley


Welcome to the latest episode of the Great NOTL Summer Walkabout, a summer-long series of stories that will take you to all corners of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our reporters will trek around the community to meet residents and visitors, attend events, visit area landmarks and tell stories about what they find. Enjoy the Walkabout.

There was no shortage of peaches in Niagara-on-the-Lake last weekend.

The annual Peach Festival, hosted by the NOTL Chamber of Commerce, took over a part of Queen Street all day Saturday as festivities were held in celebration of the peach harvest.

And celebrations continued the next day when St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church held its annual peach fest on the church grounds.

Along Queen Street, a wide variety of peach-flavoured foods – from pies, gelato and crepes to nachos, hotdogs and chimney cakes – were offered to thousands of visitors.

The popular corn-on-the-cob was also back. By using a steam boiler, the corn was steamed instead of being cooked which allowed preserving its flavour, said Elmer Neufeld.

Some 1,500 corns-on-the-cob were sold, said Ed Biega, who noted some people travelled from Toronto specifically to buy their corn but arrived after the last cob was sold.

“The corn is amazing and the process is amazing, too,” said Pat Benitez, who was staying in NOTL from Connecticut. Rosa Garcia, who lives in Georgia, agreed saying the corn was “so tender” and “delicious.”

Walter and Anne Eadie, who live in Milton, have been coming to the festival for six or seven years. They said they loved the peaches at the festival and they were also big fans of the Toronto All-Star Big Band, so it was one more attraction for them to take in.

“The event is getting busier,” said Eadie, noting it’s getting more difficult to find a place to park.

Back in the Daze, Melodie Italiane choir and the Caribbean Steel band performed throughout the day. The St. Catharines Pipe Band and the Fort George Fife and Drum Corps also provided live music.

Ben Burland of The Ben Show and Caroline’s Caricatures entertained the crowd.

Further down the main street, on the corner of Queen and Gate streets, eleven-year-old Morgan Mitchell was selling lemonade.

Sitting behind a stand with painted lemons on it and wearing a lemon hat, Mitchell said he’s been selling lemonades since he was four. All raised money goes to Red Roof Retreat and he said was hoping to raise over $2,000. Helping Michael was also his brother Spencer.

“I really wanted to raise money for them (Red Roof) because it’s a good cause. I had a lot of fun doing it,” Morgan said.

At St. Vincent de Paul’s festival on Sunday, NOTL resident MJ McGraw observed that it is interesting how different churches in town host their own fruit festivals during each summer month. St. Mark’s Anglican Church, for instance, held its cherry festival in July, while St. Andrew’s Presbyterian had the strawberry festival in June.

“I find this refreshing,” McGraw said, noting there is no sense of rivalry. “Just the fact they (churches) all take turns having their month and their fruit and their weekend where everybody comes to church.”

The peach festival had a “nice communal feel,” she said, and involved people of different ages.

Margarette Miarecki, who was at the event with her family, said she got married at the church and her two daughters, Emily and Grace, were also baptized there. 

Money raised at the festival, which saw a “great turnout,” will go back to the church, said Terry Choules, the event’s chair.

“It’s a great day and it’s a great way to meet people in the parish and everywhere else,” he said.

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