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New Street UMC’s Peach Festival a community affair

By Staff | Aug 17, 2018

Shirley Wiltshire, left, and Ann Spurgas dish up peach crisp and fudge sundaes, respectively, for New Street UMC's annual Peach Festival on Saturday. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — New Street United Methodist Church has held its annual Peach Festival for over 10 years, and every year, the festival’s popularity has grown.

According to festival founders Margaret Rose Peterson and Nancy Cleaver, the number of peach pies the church makes has doubled since the festival’s beginning, to about 60 pies this year.

Festival goers could eat in or take out their selection of festival food — chicken salad sandwiches, country ham sandwiches, sloppy joes, drinks, peach pies, pound cake with peaches, peach ice cream, peach crisps and fudge sundaes — all of which are prepared by the 40-45 church members actively helping with the festival every year.

“My daughter, sister, niece, brother-in-law and husband all help with the event — it’s a big family thing for us, and for many members of our church,” Peterson said, mentioning some church members also donate money, to help cover the event’s cost.

Many volunteers have helped with the church fundraiser since its beginning, when Peterson and Cleaver decided a seasonal festival might help the church afford to renovate its aging fellowship hall. The profits from the first Peach Festival not only allowed the church to renovate its fellowship hall — replastering its walls, buying window and stage curtains and refinishing the floor — but it also allowed the church to start hosting free dinners for college students throughout the school year. The proceeds from this year’s festival will continue to pay for the college student dinners, and will also be used to renovate the church’s kitchen and dining room.

Peterson said the process of preparing for the Peach Festival includes buying several bushels of peaches from a local orchard — this year the church bought theirs from Shepherdstown’s Twin Ridge Orchards — and peeling them to be used in peach ice cream, pound cake with peaches, peach crisp and peach pie, which is baked in Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department’s kitchen. In all, the food preparation takes about three days, starting the Wednesday before every Peach Festival, held the second Saturday of every August.

According to Peterson, the Peach Festival gives the community something special to look forward to every summer.

“It’s good for the community — people look forward to this every year, and we usually don’t have any food left by the end of it,” Peterson said.