Ocean City Today

Berlin Peach Festival this Saturday

By Josh Davis | Aug 03, 2017
Photo by: Josh Davis / Ocean City Today The peach dumpling at Baked Dessert Café, the official dessert of the Town of Berlin, is one of the many delectable dishes expected to appear during the annual Berlin Peach Festival, Saturday, at the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum.

(Aug. 4, 2017) Live music, pie-baking and pie-eating contests, vendors and plenty of peach-themed desserts will be available during the ninth annual Berlin Peach Festival, Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the lawn of the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum on 208 North Main Street.

During the 1920s, Berlin was home to Harrison’s Nurseries, run by J.G. Harrison and his sons and was the largest mail-order catalog business of its kind in the United States.

“They had over 3,000 acres all around the shore with their [peach] nurseries,” Museum curator Susan Taylor said. “They also started several varieties of peaches, like the Hale peach.”

The farms employed a huge segment of the population for about four decades. Then, around 1960 a peach blight struck crops in the area and the industry never quite recovered.

“It just wasn’t as profitable as it had been and that’s when [the Harrisons] switched to the hotel and restaurant part of the business,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she came up with the idea for the Peach Festival while researching old newspaper articles.

“They used to have this big event at the Harrison Nurseries, where they invited the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and the horticultural society to come, and they had a big picnic on the lawn,” she said. “We thought it would be fun to do this event again and bring it back to town, so we updated it and put our own little spin on it – and it’s grown from that each year.”

Three vendors will provide fresh peaches during the festival: Cole Farm of Berlin, Berlin Farm Supply and Garden of Eden of Salisbury.

Charlie Flagiello, also known as the “Uke of Earl,” and Mickey Justice will provide live music.

This year, the event will include an “open paint” for a community mural from 1-4 p.m. in conjunction with the Berlin Arts and Entertainment Committee and muralist John Donato.

The Community Mural Project is a two-part series. The panel painted during the Peach Festival will go to the Germantown School Community Heritage Center, and an open paint and potluck dinner will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16 from 4-7 p.m. in Germantown to produce the third panel of a public art mural that hangs on the visitor’s center in downtown Berlin.

Donato said anyone could contribute.

“All they have to do is bring energy and a good attitude,” he said. “No experience is needed and all the supplies are going to be there.”

He said the tone of the mural was about “resilience and resurgence.” The Germantown School operated during the segregation era and later became a warehouse.

“Through a lot of effort and dedication and vision, it became a school again,” Donato said. “A lot of Berlin itself has been inventing itself, changing and creating new things. That theme seems to be something that, historically, has been with Berlin.”

The Calvin B. Taylor House Museum enjoyed a similar resurgence. The former home of Calvin B. Taylor, it was turned into an apartment house during the 1970s and then abandoned during the 1980s and scheduled to be demolished and turned into a parking lot.

Instead, the Berlin Heritage Foundation was formed in 1981 to save the building. The foundation purchased the home from the town in 1982 and raised more than $100,000 to restore it.

“We had a lot of work to do in the beginning and a lot of that was done by volunteers – local people. The whole community has been involved with that,” Taylor said. “A lot of changes have been going on and still are. Now we’re adding exhibits depicting life as it used to be in the town and in the area.”

Guided tours will be available during the Peach Festival. Current museum exhibits include a new collection of artifacts from World War I.

The Berlin Peach Festival is free and open to the public.

“It’s just a great family event,” Taylor said. “Just come and enjoy the town and enjoy the activities that we have. It’s a wonder time for families to come and soak up some of our history.”

For more information, call 410-641-1019 or visit www.taylorhousemuseum.org.

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