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Peach Pageant kicks off Sunday

Prospective Peach Festival royalty will come together for the first time on Sunday, when the Clanton Lions Club holds orientation for all pageant contestants.

Orientation will be at the First Methodist Church at 1:30 p.m., said Tom Brown of the Clanton Lions Club.

“All of the girls participating, or someone representing them, must be present,” he said.

Sunday’s orientation will provide contestants with important information about their pageant participation. Contestants must also bring their $75 entry fee with them to orientation, Brown said.

“Some of the girls pay that fee themselves, and some get sponsors, who pay it,” he said.

The pageant, which had 120 contestants last year, is divided into three divisions — Little Miss, Junior Miss and Miss Peach.

“We’ve had as many as 189 contestants in the past,” Brown said.

Little Miss contestants are between the ages of 5 and 7 and will compete on June 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Chilton County High School.

Young Miss contestants are ages 8 through 11. The Young Miss pageant is set for Monday, June 21, also at 6:30 p.m. at the high school.

Junior Miss contestants are ages 12 through 14 and will compete on Tuesday, June 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the high school.

Miss Peach contestants are ages 15 through 18. Their pageant will be held Thursday, June 24, at 6:30 p.m. at CCHS.

“The main responsibility of our pageant winners is to promote Chilton County peaches. The winners are active all year long. They go to farmers’ markets, parades and ribbon cuttings,” Brown said.

The orientation also provides contestants information about a number of activities planned for them, like a swim party for all contestants at the city park on June 12.

On June 14, all Junior Miss contestants will enjoy a manicure party, “where they’ll all have their nails done,” Brown said.

Young Miss contestants will be invited to the First Methodist Church on June 14, where they will make cupcakes.

Little Miss contestants will go to Petals from the Past nursery on June 16 and will participate in activities there, he said.

Miss Peach pageant contestants will be honored with a skating party on June 18 at the Clanton Skating Rink.

The Peach Festival dates back to 1947. The Clanton Lions Club became its sponsors in 1997. Brown said the club’s 40 members work all year long on the project.

“Chilton County is the biggest peach-growing county in Alabama and this festival supports our peach growners,” he said.

This year’s festival kicks off with a Peach Jam, an arts and crafts show set for Friday, June 25, in downtown Clanton, beginning at 5 p.m. That event is sponsored by the Clanton Chamber of Commerce, Brown said.

On Saturday, June 26, the Peach Festival parade begins at 9 a.m.

The cornerstone of the festival will begin at 10:30 a.m., just after the parade on Saturday, when the Lions Club will auction off baskets of peaches.

“Last year, we sold one basket for $1,850,” Brown said, which was purchased by the Chilton County Farmers Federation. In all, the auction brought in $15,000 from the sale of baskets of peaches.

“In 1996, one basket of peaches sold for $8,000,” he said.

The Lions Club uses any profits produced to support a variety of charities and causes, Brown said, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the American Red Cross, the Cancer Society, Humane Society, YMCA, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Alabama Eye Bank, Chilton County Emergency Center, Alabama Sight, 4-H and Special Olympics.