Chilton County Peach Festival
The Chilton County Peach Festival is held each year the last weekend in June. The Festival began in 1947 as a way to promote Chilton County's famous peach crop.
Welcome To Chilton County News in Clanton, Alabama, "Chilton County's Best-Read Weekly Community Newspaper" located in the center of the State of Alabama in the Heart Of Dixie. This web site contains local Peach Country information, news and happenings about the people of Clanton, Jemison, Thorsby, Maplesville, Isabella, Verbena and Cooper in Chilton County, Alabama.
Click here to see a VIDEO of the 2014 Peach Queens at
the National Peanut Festival in Dothan in November.
2015 Chilton County Peach Festival! The Winners
Peach Festival Began In 1947
By Becky Tucker, News Reporter
The year was 1947 and a group of Chilton County citizens and businessmen held a meeting at a local restaurant in downtown Clanton called the Dixie Cafe. The purpose of the meeting, which was attended by some forty people, including some from Auburn and Birmingham, was to select a steering committee to gather information on how to put together a festival to promote Chilton County peaches.
The steering committee was selected at the meeting and it was decided they would contact other cities over the state that had held festivals to obtain ideas. Business interests in Clanton and Thorsby, as well as the peach growers all over the county, were behind the movement.
It was decided that the First Annual Chilton County Peach Festival would be held in Thorsby on Wednesday, July 16, 1947. There would be a parade, a peach orchard tour and a pageant for the selection of a Peach Queen to reign over the day’s festivities. It was to be a gala event to publicize the fact that “Chilton County Peaches Are Tops.”
The contestants in the Peach Pageant had to be the daughter of a peach producer to be eligible for the title of Peach Queen. She had to be single and be between 15 and 25 years of age. Eleven young ladies vied for the title that first year. Miss Essie Lou “Chick” Jones, the 15 year old daughter of Arthur B. and Gladys Herrod Jones of the Alpine Community, outside of Stanton, was chosen to reign over the festival, in all it’s glory, throughout the day.
“I remember modeling a bathing suit and an evening gown. The judges talked with us and we had a dinner. They called the third place winner, the second place winner and then me as the first place winner. I was totally surprised as I was only fifteen. It was my first and only pageant. I was truly honored for my daddy, who was one of the first peach growers in the county,” the Queen stated in an interview.
Click here to read more about the first Peach Queen and Pageant
First Peach Queen
Passed Away June 19
By Becky Tucker, News Reporter
Chilton County's first Peach Queen, Essie Lou "Chick" Jones Donald passed away on Friday, June 19, 2015. Mrs. Donald, passed away in Tuscaloosa at the age of 83. The history of the Peach Festival has always been interesting to me and in doing research on the early years, talking with former Peach Queens provides insight into that time. Mrs. Donald was a kind, sweet, and cordial lady who welcomed me into her home in June of 2008. We spent a couple of hours going through her memorabilia from 1947. I felt honored to be able to share her story through a newspaper article in 2008. To be able to talk with her and share first-hand the history of the first Peach Festival, was a memory I cherish.
My goodwill gift to her was fresh Chilton County peaches from Jerry Harrison's Horn Of Plenty Fruit Farm. Mrs. Donald grew up on a peach farm located near Alpine Church, not far from the Harrison farm. Their families grew up knowing each other through school and church.
Chilton County's first Peach King, Cecil Clark "Chick" Carlton, passed away this year on April 6 at the age of 94. Both the Peach Queen and King had the nicknames of "Chick." Mrs. Donald told me she was given the nickname by her father when she was a small child. She was very proud of her hard-working parents who raised peaches and other produce. Her father was one of the first peach farmers in the county.
Carlton was an Assistant County Agent for the Extension Service when he was assigned the task of recruiting contestants to be in the first Peach Queen Pageant. To be in the Pageant, contestants had to be the daughter of a Peach Farmer and Donald's father agreed for her to compete. It was her first, and only, pageant. Peaches from the Jones farm placed second at the first Peach Auction.
The Peach Queen and King rode on a float from Clanton to Thorsby where the Peach Festival was held on Wednesday, July 16. All the floats used the theme "Chilton County Peaches Are Tops." A slogan still used today.
Even though it rained during the Peach Festival, Mrs. Donald told me it was an amazing experience for her. She felt truly honored to represent the Peach Farmers, especially her father, as Peach Queen.
Contact The News
Chilton County News
Post Office Box 189
Clanton, Alabama 35046