Peach Park in Clanton reopens after break

Published 3:32 pm Friday, February 16, 2018

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

Peach Park, a Clanton staple, opened back up for business Feb. 16 after its winter hiatus.

Gene and Frances Gray established Peach Park in 1984 as a small roadside fruit stand, according to the company’s website. Frances began making homemade ice cream to sell in 1988, and over the years the business has continued to grow.

“We are a fresh produce market,” said owner and manager Mark Gray. “That’s how we started; raising peaches and selling them here. Now we have a restaurant, a barbecue, we have the ice cream and the bakery with cobbler and pies, all the fresh bread, cakes and candy.”

The dates the establishment opens its doors has grown right along with the business over the years.

“Used to we were open during peach season, and that was all,” Mark said. “Our season stretches out a little longer, because you have a lot more traffic in the fall now because of fall break and stuff like that. So we extended on into the fall.

“Now we also start out a little earlier in the spring because of earlier spring breaks and stuff like that. That’s why our season is now longer than the peach season. We used to open from May until right after Labor Day when peach season was over.”

Business picked up so fast when Peach Park reopened last year that Mark decided to push back the start date even earlier in 2018.

“We usually open the last week of February,” he said. “Last year we had so many people trying to come in on Presidents Day weekend that we decided we needed to step back a week and get open before that holiday.”

Peaches are the main commodity for the business, as its name might suggest, but the park has more to offer than just fresh fruit.

“Out front we do a lot of gifts,” Mark said. “We have a boutique that has the women’s clothing and the jewelry. We have all kinds of gift items, pretty much anything you can think of.

“We have a big playground, and you can walk all through the park out here. We should be seeing some spring colors here before long. The park is really pretty when the spring colors come out. We have an RV park on top of the hill. We also have a house called the Orchard House that people can rent out for parties and receptions.”

Other items Peach Park is renowned for include homemade ice cream and pies.

“Of course we are known for our peaches, but we peel and cut up peaches all summer long when they are in season and put them in the freezer so we can make peach ice cream and other items all season,” Mark said. “We make all the ice cream, and the dough for the cobbler and pies is made from scratch just like grandma used to do it.”