Palisade Peach Festival brings visitors from across region to taste namesake peaches, experience West Slope |

Palisade Peach Festival brings visitors from across region to taste namesake peaches, experience West Slope

Michael Bayens, 8, from Grand Junction samples a peach at the Harry's Peaches booth Saturday at the Palisade Peach Festival.
Photo by Nikki Work |

Orchards in Palisade

For more information about where to get Palisade peaches in Palisade, click here.

The Bonkoski’s first year attending was when her mother, Amy, was pregnant with Lacey. They’ve been coming ever since.

This year held a special treat for Lacey. She got to pick her own peaches at an orchard before the festival on Aug. 20. Spinning in a circle, she recounted how many fruits she’d plucked.

“I think it’s the highlight,” Amy said, laughing as her daughter chirped about the peaches. “It’s so fun, it makes the experience so much more enjoyable kind of seeing it through a child’s eyes.”

Crowds gathered from all over Colorado and states across the region for the two-day Palisade Peach Festival at Riverbend Park in Palisade, Colo. Terry and Emily Torres of Salt Lake City were in Fruita this week and heard about the festival. They made the trip to Palisade Saturday, even though they’d never heard about the prestige of the town’s peaches.

After a day at the festival, a box of peaches and a cup of peach sorbet, Terry said he was impressed by the the fruit and the customer service of the vendors. Both Terry and Emily mentioned the kind personality of people in Palisade. Emily couldn’t bring her dog into the festival, but when she knocked on a door in the neighborhood by Riverbend Park, the residents happily agreed to watch the pup so the out-of-town visitors could try Palisade peaches for the first time.

Though Palisade has been home to Harry’s Peaches orchard for 38 years, this was the first year the orchard has had a stand at the festival. In the past, Christina Horn, daughter of orchard founder Harry, said the orchard has been too busy harvesting around the time of the festival. This year, they had some extra time. Instead of harvesting, they’re in the process of replanting the peach trees, which were in production for 31 years, about a decade longer than most peach trees make it.

Harry’s Peaches has won biggest peach at the festival three times, a feat Horn accredits to the careful pruning techniques they use. Pruning allows the fruit to grow larger, since there are fewer other peaches competing for nutrients and water from the tree.

This year, their winning Lucky 13 variety peach was .72 pounds.

“Our previous winners were over a pound,” she said. They also came from older trees at the orchard.

This year’s winner was harvested from a newer tree, so she was happy it was still able to bring home the victory. It sat at the Palisade Chamber of Commerce booth with a sash and tiara — like any beauty queen would — atop a purple pillow.

Aug. 19, the first day of the Palisade Peach Festival, saw 3,000-4,000 visitors, said Julia Durmaj, treasurer of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce. Though many of the vendors at the fest said Aug. 20 was much busier than Aug. 19, but Durmaj said official estimates for the day were not yet available.

At the Juicy Acres orchard stand, samples of peaches were going quickly, customers’ satisfied noises punctuating the sounds of orders being made, questions asked about the varieties and the Delia Andreas’ knife slicing new pieces of fruit to serve. Andreas said she could hardly finish slicing one peach and getting the samples ready before they were gone. By midday Saturday, she’d served nearly 5,000 samples.

“It’s fun, because you get to see and meet people from all over,” Andreas said. The Palisade resident also said it’s a boon for the economy, and she enjoys visitors getting to see what the West Slope has to offer. “Palisade’s really a fun town. We’ve got orchards, we’ve got vineyards, we’ve got mountains, we’ve got the river – we’ve got everything.” ❖

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