Chilton County peach crop hit hard. Auction raises $25K for Lions Club

Chilton Peach Auction
1st Place Peaches grown by Jerry Harrison. Won for $3400 by ALFA.

How much would you pay for a basket of peaches?  At the Clanton Lions Club annual benefit, 25 baskets were auctioned off for an average of $1K each.  Ok, it was for a good cause.  But get ready, ’cause your basket price  is going up too.

The Clanton Lion’s Club hosts the event each year to raise funds for the Alabama Eye Foundation and other civic causes.  But conversation at this years benefit centered around the difficult year for Chilton County peach farmers.

Drought plus warm winter = few peaches.

When Bham Now asked Ken Patterson, owner of Ken Patterson farms, how his peach crop is looking he had a one word reply;

‘Terrible!”  Patterson explained.  “The drought from last fall, coupled with the fact that Alabama’s winter didn’t stay cold enough, long enough, has taken a huge toll on our local peach crops.  Peach trees need a stage of ‘dormancy’ and this happens when the temperatures stay below 45 degrees for 700-900 hours.  When this doesn’t happen (like this winter) the peach crops suffer.’

Ken Patterson told Bham Now that his 2017 peach crop has dropped 70-80% from last year.

How will this impact peach prices?

“Prices will probably double’  according to Patterson. “But buy the peaches anyway.  Local farmers need the support.”

Fortunately, Ken Patterson has a day job at People Southern Bank, which pays the bills.

Clanton Lions Club

A couple of hundred people were packed into the Senior Connections Center in Clanton to show support for the Lions Club’s annual peach auction and to ooh and ahh over the Peach Queens.

Glen McGriff, President of the Clanton Lion’s Club said;

‘Growers are the backbones of the country.  It’s been a tough year for them’.

Several state officials made an appearance at the event including Moe Brooks, U.S. Representative; Cam Ward, State Senator; Billy Joe Driver, Clanton Mayor and John McMillan, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture.

 

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Peach Queens

Peach queen candidates are judged on beauty and by interviews. Winners walk away with prizes and  scholarships sponsored by area companies.  According to the Clanton Lions Club Facebook page,

Scholarship winners for this year are Shelby Baptist Future Leaders Scholarship for $1,500 to Abigail Porter; St. Vincent’s Scholarship for $1,500 to Celeste Montgomery; Hayes Drug Scholarship for $500 to Abigail Porter; Peoples Southern Bank Scholarship for $500 to Lauren Tillery and Realty South Scholarship for $1,000 to Brianna Price.

Two Peach Queens from the ’50s showed up to show support for the event.  Included was Miss Peach 1959, Ola Faye Gilliam.  Martha Bell Jones, Miss Peach 1954, came all the way from her current home in Kentucky for the event.  Ms. Jones said winning the title changed her life.  How?

 “I met my husband at the Peach Parade and have been married for 61 years.”

 

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