The Georgia Peach Festival honors peach growers for their contribution to our state's economy and to the food industry nationwide. The annual week-long Festival attracts as many as 10,000 visitors including church groups, senior groups and charter bus tours. The Georgia Peach Festival splits events between Peach County's two cities, Byron and Fort Valley, each June.
Georgia peaches have a long and storied tradition and Peach County is the epicenter of this fabled industry. The first peaches were planted in the state in the 18th century, and the first commercial production occurred in the mid-19th century.
As of 2017, peaches are commercially produced in 20 states. Georgia ranks third in the nation in the annual production of peaches, with more than 15,000 acres of peach trees yielding more than 1.7 million bushels of peaches annually. More than half of that harvest is cultivated in Peach County alone. Georgia peaches are arguably the sweetest and tastiest grown anywhere in the world.
The Georgia Peach Festival was revived in 1986 to honor peach growers for their contribution to our state's economy and to the food industry nationwide. It also is a great opportunity to showcase all the good things Byron and Fort Valley have to offer. The Peach Festival holds the distinction of being the only state-sanctioned food festival.
The Georgia Peach Festival attracts between 7,000 and 10,000 visitors during festival week, including church groups, senior center groups and charter bus tours. The festival is celebrated in Fort Valley and Byron with unique events in each city. See the schedule for details.
The idea of a Peach Festival was conceived by Harold Peavy to promote Peach County and the peach industry that has contributed so much to the livelihood of the state of Georgia. Georgia ranks third in the nation in the annual production of peaches, with about 2 million peach trees yielding more than 1.6 million bushels of peaches annually. More than half of that harvest is cultivated by Peach County growers alone.
The Georgia Peach Festival is partially funded by government partners such as the Peach County Board of Commissioners, Fort Valley Utility Commission, the City Governments of Byron and Fort Valley, the Byron Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Peach County tourism committee. In addition, funds are donated by local and regional business sponsors.
Certain annual events staged prior or during the Peach Festival, produce revenue.The sale of t-shirts and festival-franchised merchandise also adds to the festival's income.
The Peach Festival Board of Directors is committed to promoting Peach County, to enhancing the civic pride of the county’s residents and sharing the quality of life here with visitors. For four months prior to the start of the Peach Festival, the event is highly publicized with printed brochures distributed to Welcome Centers on I-75 and surrounding Chambers of Commerce and businesses.
The festival also uses radio and television ads, billboards, local newspapers and promotes the festival online at www.gapeachfestival.com. Festival promoters also distribute program books to all visitors during the festival.
Between 1922-26, Fort Valley greeted the first peach blossoms in annual festivals of dance, song, elaborate pageants and delicious barbecue. These elaborate festivals were said to rival Mardi Gras and California's Rose Festival and the events attracted the attention of National Geographic, the New York Times and Hollywood movie studios.Soon thousands from all over the world would make their way to Fort Valley each March. It has been reported that as many as 40,000 people descended on the town during the festival, which was ended in 1926 because it was too successful.
Sixty years later, in 1986, Fort Valley revived the historic festival, moved it from blooming season to harvest season and renamed it the Georgia Peach Festival. It was officially incorporated in 1988 as the Georgia Peach Festival, Inc., and was once directed by the Chamber of Commerce. Today a volunteer board plans, organizes and executes the complex job of putting on the festival.
The festival committee's goal is to make this year's Peach Festival bigger and better than ever, attracting even larger crowds to the area through enhanced activities and more vendors. For more information on the Georgia Peach Festival call 478-825-4002.