Thursday, August 30, 2018

Romeo Peach Festival This Labor Day Weekend! 87th Annual

The 87th annual Michigan Peach Festival is this holiday weekend in Romeo, Michigan. It runs from Thursday, August 30 through Monday, September 3rd, 2018. Grab a copy of the program at locations around town or visit romeopeachfestival.com for a schedule of all the events. Don't miss all the fun!




Looking back at the 75th Peach Festival in 2006, the Peach Queen was Lauren Kloock from Romeo. The program that year contains a list of all the reigning queens from 1931 through 2006.








The reigning Peach Queen of the 50th annual festival in 1981 was Chris Righi. The annual Children's Parade was scheduled at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 7th, with the Floral Parade at 1:30 p.m. on the same day. The Floral Parade has since been renamed as the Hometown Parade, and both parades for 2018 are held Labor Day, September 3rd, at the same times. 



Carol Hall was the Peach Queen of the 25th Annual Silver Jubilee celebration in 1957. The program that year (as does every year) includes a list of sponsors. It is an interesting snapshot of many local businesses at that time.




For a downloadable copy of the 1st ever Peach Festival, visit the Romeo Community Archives Digital Collections page. 


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Peach Queens and/or Miss Romeo?

Confusing as it can be, the titles of Peach Queen and Miss Romeo are two different pageants. Miss Romeo contestants vie for the privilege of representing Romeo in the Peach Queen pageant. Sometimes, she may hold both titles as is the case with 1939's Nancy Barber of Romeo. 



1939 Miss Romeo and Peach Queen, Nancy Barber

The Peach Queen is an ambassador of Romeo and her duties include representing the local peach harvests and bringing attention to the orchards and the Peach Festival. 

In the photo below, Nancy Barber is sharing a basket of peaches with Brig. General Edwin W. Watson, Secretary to President Roosevelt, in Washington D.C.



In a letter from 1939, the Peach Festival Association described the Peach Queen Pageant as "...in previous years, a reigning queen, maids of honor, and a queens court, will be selected from candidates representing five counties--Lapeer, Genessee, St. Clair, Oakland, and Macomb.

Preliminary contests for community representatives will be held not later than August 11--county winners will be chosen August 18, and the final contest, from which will emerge a 1939 queen and her court, will be held in Romeo, August 25th."

In 1939 there were 11 contestants representing Mount Clemens, Macomb County, Romeo, Port Huron, St. Clair County, Flint, Genessee County, Lapeer, Lapeer County, Pontiac, and Oakland County.

Nancy Barber, having won the Miss Romeo title, competed and won the Peach Queen title for 1939.


Images and sources courtesy of the Romeo Community Archives; Romeo Peach Festival Collection, 1939

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Everybody Loves a Parade!

Beginning with the first Peach Festival in 1931, parades have become a treasured annual event in Romeo. Entering a float in the parade gave local orchards and businesses a way to promote their harvests and wares. The floral parade, as it was known then, had elaborate floats. In his book, The Romeo Peach Festival, author David McLaughlin describes the "unusual route, starting at Tillson Street to North Main Street, west on Gates Street, then to Prospect Street, to West St. Clair Street heading east, and ending at Railroad Street" (p. 16).


The first place float in 1931, featured the Cherry Queen, Maxine Weaver, from the Traverse City, Michigan, Cherry Festival.





The second place prize went to Hillcrest Orchards. Notice the large peach and "Juliet brand" of peaches.







The third prize featured a large pirate ship float from Mountainview Orchards.



Everybody loves a parade, and Romeo is no exception! 

Don't miss the upcoming Peach Festival parades of 2018:
  • Sunday, September 2nd: Night parade
  • Monday, September 3rd: Children's parade - 10 am, Hometown parade - 1:30 pm
For more 2018 Peach Festival event information visit http://romeopeachfestival.com/ 
For more interesting Peach Festival history and photos, check out McLaughlin's book at both the Kezar and Graubner branches of the Romeo District Library.

Photos courtesy of the Romeo Community Archives

Thursday, August 9, 2018

1931 Peach Festival: "When you want good peaches, come to Romeo!"

The first Peach Festival of 1931 began as a way to promote the local Romeo peach harvests during the economic hardships of The Great Depression. The Festival ran Saturday, September 5th through Monday, the 7th, and in honor, Saturday was named Farmer's Day.

According to the Souvenir Program, First Michigan Peach Festival, 1931:
"One of the days of our Peach Festival and one which will provide entertainment for all classes will particularly be known as Farmer's Day. The Committee feels that to create interest in Rural Districts in the people of municipalities that both classes must be brought to understand one another in a more thorough manner. Therefore by entertaining our cities and especially our rural folks on this day possibly this understanding will be the outcome. It is the desire of everyone to see that history repeats itself, namely the equalization of every class, and the respect of one for the other. This is the one big solution to our present economical situation. In other words relieve your congested cities, give a greater number of men work and increase your buying power. This, our city and country friends, is something for you to think about. It is not injected for the purpose of detracting from the joy you will receive in close contact with our wonderful Peach orchards but is merely done in order that something constructive economically is carried thru by our peach blessing and as a means of explaining why Saturday is dedicated as Farmers Day.
PEACH FESTIVAL COMMITTEE
E. A. Jacob, General Chairman"

The souvenir program describes the history of Romeo orchards, a list of the orchards, and includes the Festival program of events. There are also many wonderful recipes that feature the main attraction--glorious peaches!

"When you want good peaches come to Romeo!!!!"



Visit the Digital Collections page for a downloadable copy of the first ever Peach Festival program.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

The First Peach Festival -- 1931

The Romeo Peach Festival was started in 1931 and is the second longest running festival in Michigan. The idea for the festival came from local orchard growers interested in promoting their harvests and encouraging further economic growth in the village of Romeo. Labor Day weekend was chosen to align with the peach harvest, and the festival has been running continuously since 1931 except for the war years of 1942-1945.
Each year a Peach Queen was chosen from eleven contestants; two each from Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Lapeer, and Genessee counties, along with a Romeo contestant. Miss Romeo pageants were held from 1931 to 1973, and the selected contestant was an ambassador of the festival as well as a representative in the Peach Queen contest. 



1931 Peach Queen, Virginia Allor



Check back each week in August for more Peach Festival posts featuring photos and downloads that highlight the history of this unique hometown celebration.