Peach Festival Pays Homage To Berlin History

BERLIN – A peach festival, sponsored and hosted by the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum, will come to the town of Berlin this summer to honor Berlin’s past as home of Harrison nurseries.

The Taylor House Museum is now in the planning stages of the festival, to be held the second Sunday in August.

“We’re trying to go back to the roots of the town,” said Taylor House Museum board member Marge Coyman at a recent Berlin Mayor and Council meeting.

“It might just remind everyone what a rich agricultural heritage the whole area has,” said Sandra Dewey, a Harrison who grew up in Berlin and who now serves on the museum board.

She recalled working in an orchard-packing shed as a girl.

“I wanted to. I begged my father to let me do something like that. I have some very fond memories,” she said.

The one-day event is the descendent of a massive celebration last held in the early 1900s, once drawing 10,000 people to town, according to Coyman.

Berlin was once home to the Harrison family, the largest seller of fruit trees and plants in the world in the early part of the 20th Century.

“I don’t think a lot of people in the area know it was the largest provider of fruit trees to the world,” said Coyman.

The peach festival will take place from noon until 6 p.m. on Aug. 9, followed by one of the museum’s concerts on the lawn.

“It promotes part of the heritage of the town and adds a new event when we don’t ordinarily have anything going on,” said Berlin Mayor Gee Williams.

The festival will include a peach pie baking contest, education displays on local agriculture including speakers from Bennett Farms, a local peach grower and displays of Harrison memorabilia, and equipment used for cooking and canning fruit. Music appropriate to the Harrison heyday will be performed. A local ice cream maker will offer fresh peach ice cream. A basket weaver will be on hand to demonstrate her craft, a necessary skill in the days before disposable packaging

“Basket making was very critical for the fruit and tomato industry,” said Coyman said.

Organizers hope to get local merchants involved, perhaps through discounts or other ways to tie-in to the one-day festival.

“We just hope it’ll be a nice community event,” said Dewey.

“If the festival grows a little bit, that would be okay. We’re just hoping the first year we’ll get a good response,” said Coyman.