Sunday, August 9, 2009

#11 Peach Festival - Grafton, IL - August 9, 2009

#11 Peach Festival - Grafton, IL - August 9, 2009

It was a bumper crop for one local farmer, and he somehow finagled to be the only farmer present at this "Peach Festival". They did look pretty impressive though so I bought the bag o' peaches to the right. Sadly there were no other peach vendors available, although I saw about ten small stands on the roads around the festival.

The peach related items were hard to come by at this event. In fact there was only the peach vendor, a kettle corn guy, and an Italian Ice cart (very shady). This "festival" was held at a lodge so I purchased this peach cobbler at the restaurant. The filling was good and promising, but the crust was severely undercooked and tasted like paste. There was definitely not enough people to create a demand large enough to necessitate hurrying a cobbler.

There wasn't much going on at this festival. I feel that the lodge and the peach farmer may have conspired to put on this whole hoopla and sell it as a festival. Don't get me wrong there was a small car show, a bounce house, and a small flea market, but only three vendors! I got bored and was dazzling people with my peach juggling. For the record I was juggling three peaches, but this photo was taken while people were throwing them in.

After a half an hour I had seen everything this festival had to offer, but it was a beautiful day along the Mississippi River and I thought I'd give it a chance. Unfortunately this balloon animal was the highlight of the next hour. I mean he didn't stop at just a tree. He didn't stop after the monkey hanging on it. He even threw in a bunch of bananas hanging from a vine. I was so impressed I even took this out of a little girl's hands to take this picture (with her father's permission), although in retrospect it may have been creepy.

Unfortunately the ride home may have been the best part of the festival. No, not because I left but because I got lost. The road home along the River was shut down due to an accident. My car was in park and I was thinking to myself that the festival had to have been better than this. I looked to my right and there was a Ferry loading dock. I had no idea where it took me, but I knew I had to cross the Mississippi eventually anyway and I was going nowhere fast where I was. I got to the other side and asked the operator for directions. About 10 turns through country roads I arrived at the second Ferry. I'm not sure how it worked or what kind of wormhole I went through, but somehow I started in Illinois and crossed the Mississippi River twice but ended up in Missouri somehow. It defies logic, but it was serene and calming.

For any Hee-Haw fans, here is some good old fashioned pickin' and grinnin'. And yes, if you listen closely that is the restaurant paging people whose tables are ready. These guys were really good though, but I couldn't get a good recording of their vocals due to the acoustics. Take my word, the Misty Ridge Band's harmonies were excellent.

There really wasn't much to this festival a 10 exhibit car show, a bounce house, 3 vendors I listed, a small flea market inside the lodge and a band. There were no other food options available and for the first time this summer, I left a festival hungry. I was bamboozled by such a pretty flyer. I mean most of the festivals I have been to don't have flyers. This is a 3rd Annual Festival so maybe 4 is a charm. I just don't understand why there was only one peach purveyor placing peaches for purchase (say that 3 times fast). It seemed like everyone was sitting there waiting for some peach related event to begin. I had heard about a peach pie eating contest, but no one knew when or where or if it would take place. So I waited more, then began juggling peaches. I wish I had this little peach riddle to think about then.

Be that is it may, I still had a good time. It was nice to have an air-conditioned respite in the lodge on a day where the temperature was hovering around the 100 degree mark. The peaches were definitely tasty. Although I'm not sure it is possible to eat a peach without getting everything around you sticky. I haven't always been a big peach fan though, something about that fuzzy skin bothers me. Did you know that a nectarine is the same fruit as a peach except without the fuzzy skin? If you need a lot of ideas on what to do with a peach or nectarine just click here and buy some peaches ASAP. If that didn't satisfy your peach curiosity then click here and you might not even want to hear the word peach ever again. Apparently the peach goes back to 2000 BC in China.

Somehow along the way this summer I have become a festival snob. So it didn't have any peach activities, funnel cakes, or gyros. Is that really so bad? I know this much. A grown man should not have been so enamored with a balloon animal as I was allowed to become. The ride home was amazing. A beautiful day to drive along the Mississippi River, complete with two rides on a ferry. I haven't been on a ferry since Dubai about 7 years ago, and there is something very quaint about crossing a river by boat. Simpler times. I had no idea where I was, or how to get home, and that was the fun of it. In today's world of deadlines and iPods, I truly enjoyed aimlessly driving on empty roads without worrying about what time I got home. It was freedom that you only appreciate when you find those few moments you experience them.

For some reason I always think of Roald Dahl's, "James and the Giant Peach" when I think of the fruit. I mean the kid floats off in a gigantic peach pit. That's good stuff. Apparently it has been a long time since I read the book because I only got 4 out of 10 right in this quiz. Grafton, Illinois is a beautiful place irregardless of festivals, and I am happy I found this gem twice through these festivals. From towboats to peaches, I'll be back once again for the Bald Eagles
when they come back in winter. I may even take the ferries again when I return.


  1. Sounds like a "Travels with Charlie" episode. With balloon art. At least you're working towards the goal of being a part of the festival - you're already the entertainment. Sounds like fun, especially with the ferries and time travel!

  2. Wow, the Steinbeck reference may be a bit high-brow for me in this forum. The time travel was interesting, but turns out I ferried to an island for free but they charge you to get off the island and to the other side of the Mississippi. Shady.