Peach Jammin’: 77th Chilton County Peach Festival kicked off with Peach Jam

Published 11:22 am Monday, June 10, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Thousands of people flocked to Clanton on June 7-8 for the Peach Jam that rang in the start of the 77th annual Chilton County Peach Festival this month. The biggest attraction of the month-long peach celebration switched roles in 2024 as the opening act of the festival after being the culminating event in past years.

The move to the start of the June offered a bit of relief from the Alabama summer sun as temperatures hovered in the high 80s most of the day on June 8, much more comfortable than the previous two years. This seemed to bring more people into the festival as crowds filled Clanton early in the day. Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon spoke at around 2:30 p.m. on June 8 about how big the crowd had already gotten, not even four hours after gates opened.

“It has grown greatly down through the years, and we are even across the creek now,” Shearon said. “Normally, it is 4 p.m. or so filling up some of these parking areas, but today those things are already full. You can tell we have larger crowds this year, everybody is having a good time and you could not ask for a better day today.”

Every year it seems like the crowds grow bigger for Peach Jam, and this year was no different as crowds filled Clanton City Park to see the event’s biggest live performer yet, Chris Janson. Janson highlighted the two nights of live entertainment at the event on June 8 as Rhett Walker headlined night one on June 7.

Other attractions at Peach Jam this year included dozens of vendors scattered throughout Ollie Park selling items, handing out information and offering free services, such as Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton Hospital hosting free blood pressure checks. Fan-favorite attractions were back this year like the kid’s zone with free inflatables for little Peach Jam attendees, numerous food and drink options from local favorites to traditional fair food, hot air balloon rides, the touch-a-truck exhibit, the car show hosted by the Chilton County Cruisers and a farmer’s market with hundreds of baskets of fresh peaches.

The Simmons family from St. Augustine, Florida make a trip to visit family in Chattanooga, Tennessee every summer. The family decides to schedule it during June, and they plan it so they are coming through Clanton the same day as the Peach Jam.

“It is always in our plans when we make the trip to stop in for this,” Ryan Simmons said. “The kids can have a day outside of the car, try some food and get some peaches too. Each year it is a great detour for sure.”

City of Clanton Mayor Jeff Mims chose Jimmy Cummings’ 1956 Ford F-100 as his Mayor’s Choice Award winner during the Chilton Cruisers Car Show. The truck was customized to an extended cab version since Ford did not release their first extended cab truck in until 1974. A 429 Thunderjet engine was put in the truck, and it has air conditioning, power seats and power windows now.

“I wanted a 1956 Ford because I was born in 1956, so we’re the same age,” Cummings said. “It drives really nice down the interstate, you can go 70-75 mph if you want to. It has an aftermarket Thunderbird chassis from a 1969 Thunderbird. It is a pretty nice truck.”

The crowd and visitors to the Peach Jam voted for their favorite car during the show as well, and the top five vote getters were named. The top five in Chilton County Cruisers Car Show were Danny Hoggle’s 1957 Chevrolet, Ricky Yates’ 2001 Ford F-150, Chan Hucks’ 1951 Chevrolet truck, Robert Whitlock’s 1971 Chevrolet Corvette and Donny Hayes’ 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.