BERLIN – Thousands attended last weekend’s Berlin Peach Festival despite rain.
Several businesses reported last Saturday was one of their best sales days of the season as crowds strolled downtown sidewalks after visiting the lawn of the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum.
“The crowds started building on the streets at 9 a.m. and by the time we opened our doors at 10 a.m., it was crazy,” said Michele Krempa, owner of Beach Memories. “Best retail day of the season, thus far.”
Melissa Reid, president of the museum, said rain in the forecast didn’t stop visitors from gathering on the lawn Saturday morning. Many were there 45 minutes before the museum even started selling peaches. The museum went through 70 crates of Harris Market peaches, selling out by the middle of the day, and also sold out of peach slushies.
“We’re hugely appreciative people came out in the rain,” Reid said.
She was pleased to note that even sales of museum merchandise, including Taylor House T-shirts and books, were strong.
“That showed people were interested in the history of Berlin,” she said. “That’s different than buying a bag of peaches.”
The rain also didn’t deter the Bilenki Duo.
“There were people standing in the pouring rain listening to them play,” Reid said.
The festival’s peach pie baking contest attracted five entries, with Susan Simpson earning first, Kendal Whaley earning second and Nicole Masenior placing third.
Reid estimates about 3,000 people visited the Peach Festival throughout the day. Because the festival included nonprofit exhibits but not arts and crafts vendors this year, attendees interested in shopping spread out throughout town. Merchants saw plenty of activity.
Krempa, whose shop created limited edition fused glass peach suncatchers to sell during the event, said people were buying two or three at a time.
“It may have rained, but in true Berlin fashion the festivals always turn out crowds,” she said.
Cassandra Brown at Una Bella Salute said she thought this year’s Peach Festival brought more people to town than last year’s event, which was scaled back due to the pandemic. She believes the weather might have augmented crowds, as those in the area to go to the beach didn’t want to do so in the rain.
“We were busy even after the rain,” she added. “I’d call the Peach Festival a success.”
Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director, agreed.
“At one point on the lawn of the museum there was about a thousand people and the businesses had an extraordinary day on Saturday,” she said. “They’re very grateful for the museum and all the planning that they did for Saturday’s event.”
She said businesses would be getting together to make a donation to the museum to show their appreciation.