Porter Peach Festival organizers rejoice after late freeze does little to hurt local peach crop

PORTER, OKLA. - The town of Porter expects a crowd of 20,000 people later this week to attend its annual Peach Festival.

All the planned activities center around the fuzzy fruit, but this year organizers worried that a late freeze would leave them without any to use for the festival.

In early April, temperatures dipped below freezing, causing growers like those at Livesay Orchards in Porter to take some extreme measures. Co-owner Kent Livesay brought in helicopters to hover over the blossoming peach trees during the early morning hours in an effort to save the budding fruit.

"A lot of them survived," Livesay said. "It may have helped some that we had the helicopters. I just wish we would have had more helicopters, actually."

He said the extra effort still paid off because he now has enough peaches to harvest at least for another 50 days.

"We grow about 40 varieties (of peaches), and that's how we're able to have a June to September (harvest)," Livesay explained.

"Maybe there was a little more damage than what we realized in the very beginning," he said, "but we're going to have a good supply of peaches."

The orchards may not have produced as many peaches as previous years, but Livesay claims the quality of the fruit is excellent. He and his family are already selling peaches quickly at their stand, and the Peach Festival will bring even more business in the next few days.

"It's always hard even when we have a hundred percent crop to have enough peaches for the Saturday of the Peach Festival, but some years we do," Livesay said. "It's going to be tougher this year."

The Peach Festival organizers remain confident, though, that they will have enough peaches to serve 3,000 bowls of fruit and ice cream to the public on Saturday. Chairman Roy Essary said there seems to be interest in the festival this year.

"I don't know what to attribute it to," Essary said. "Maybe people are just wanting to get out and relax a little bit, bring out their lawn chairs and watch the parade and just live easy for about three days."

The Porter Peach Festival starts Thursday evening and runs through Saturday. To see a schedule of events, follow this link .

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