The Porter Peach Festival

Now that Isabel and Brady have started school, and days of sleeping in and lounging around lazily and unproductively are a thing of the past, I am recommitting to being a more motivated and diligent blogger. With that said, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on an adventure Brady and I experienced over summer vacation.

When we lived in  California, I would see on the KTLA news (I miss you, KTLA news) announcements of upcoming festivals such as the Oxnard Strawberry Festival, the Long Beach Greek Festival, and the Orange County Fair, to name a few. I would always think, “That sounds like fun! We should go!” But, because of other plans or hesitance of spending a Saturday driving in traffic, we never did.

So, being in Oklahoma without kids’ sporting events to work around (yet) or weekend traffic to fear, I heard news of the Porter Peach Festival and I got excited. Brady shared in my interest, John and Isabel did not, so Brady and I drove for an hour southeast through Tulsa and beautiful countryside to the tiny town of Porter.

In 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Porter had a population of 606.

I learned some interesting facts about the town of Porter from the festival program. Ben Marshall planted the the first commercial peach orchard in Porter in 1890. In 1904, he took his peaches and apples to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis which caused the orchard to gain national attention.  Porter peaches were shipped by railroad to supply grocery stores in the early 1900’s. As a result of this history, Porter began promoting itself as “The Peach Capital of the World” in 1983.

I parked our car on the grassy side of the road, and Brady and I hopped onto this John Deere tractor shuttle which transported us to the festival down the street.

We really felt anticipation of doing something totally new in our new home of Oklahoma. The first thing we did was  get our faces painted. Brady chose a Minecraft Creeper and I chose a peach!

As we were in the face painting booth, I noticed a line gathering behind the booth. There were free peaches and ice cream at the fire station!!! The concept of a full serving of dessert free to the masses was astounding to me. So, that’s where we headed.

I haven’t yet mentioned how crazy hot it was outside. I’m guessing it was 100 degrees, throw in the element of humidity, and this California girl was wilting like a peach bud! So, with many other festival-goers, we hunkered down in the shade of the firehouse garage and ate our Porter peaches and vanilla ice cream. The combination of the two was so sweet, peachy and creamy. It was the best thing we ate all day.

Next, Brady and I bought some ride tickets and went down the slide together. It was faster than I thought it would be!

Then we saw it. (Cue the ominous music.)

I don’t remember the name of this ride. I think I’ve blocked it from my memory. It started out very fun as we swung around in a circle and spun occassionally. Weeeee!

It picked up speed and my giggles and wees became fun screams. My LMU baseball cap flew off and landed on the ground somewhere. As the little car whipped us around and flung us into the air, our limbs dangling and the tumultuous sound of rickety metal parts holding our fate, my screams of joy morphed into screams of… discontent? Terror? Brady started shouting, “No, I don’t want to!” and I was recalling previous stories on the news  about freak carnival ride accidents. While a new concern grew that I was going to throw up my free peaches and ice cream, Brady was next to me yelling, “This is not how I die!” As we whirled passed the man working the ride, I shouted in a voice that I forced to sound pleasant, “Okay, I think we’re done!” After a few more bloodcurdling revolutions, the ride slowed and stopped. When the man helped us off the ride, I attempted calmly, “I underestimated this ride.” He replied, “Most people do.”

Normally, I am a total daredevil. I will excitedly brave the craziest rollercoaster at any amusement park, but I think sketchy carnival rides might be a thing of my past. Brady and I agreed that we would only repeat the slide.

Brady threw darts at balloons and won a stuffed owl which he named “Porter”. Notice Brady’s peachy outfit. We both dressed festively in shades of orange.

It was hoooot. And humid. There would be bands playing later that evening right underneath the quaint and very Americana setting of the Porter water towers, but after a snow cone,  our purchase of Porter peaches to support the cause and some kettle corn to take back to Isabel and John, we were ready to take the John Deere tractor shuttle back to our air-conditioned car and make the drive back to Skiatook.

It was a sweet advenuture that Brady and I shared together. Until the next festival!

Listen to Good Directions by Billy Currington.  In my mind, the story of this charming song occurs in a little town just like Porter!

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