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Peach Fest feedback meeting covers volunteers and more

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM The festival that almost wasn't -- the 24th annual Peach Festival -- was a smashing success this summer, making a profit and ensuring that the peach harvest tradition will continue until at least next year, which will be its silver anniversary. There were some things about the festival, however, that still need some work. That's why the Wilbraham Community Association (WCA) hosted a feedback meeting on Thursday to gather constructive criticism for work that can be done.

Despite the outpouring of support from interested residents during last January's organizational meeting, members of the WCA noted there still were not enough volunteers on hand for this year's festival. WCA secretary Cate Duquette, who also serves as a volunteer coordinator, thanked those who did offer their time.

There are currently 57 different areas in which people can volunteer their time at the festival.

The group of 14 who gathered to offer their feedback made some suggestions as to how the volunteer issue could be solved. They resolved to create a full e-mail list, set a timeline for when phone calls would be made and decided to work with the schools in the spring to offer volunteer hours to students.

Volunteers do not need to be Wilbraham residents, and there is no minimum age for those interested in helping out. Five hundred of the volunteered hours at the festival this summer were offered by teens.

Suggestions were also taken on ways to make the Peach Festival more tempting for teens. Will Caruana, a 2007 graduate of Minnechaug Regional High School, said the film festival this year served as a good draw for the younger crowd. He suggested adding some video game entertainment for next year, something like "Guitar Hero" or "Rock Band."

The group discussed how effective the 50-cent token system was working, wondering whether it should be changed to a one dollar-token system in the future, or whether it should be changed to use tickets or wristbands instead.

The feedback session ended with the consensus that something special needs to be done for the 25th anniversary of the Peach Festival, which will be taking place Aug. 21 through 23, 2009. The organizational meeting for the festival will again be taking place in January.

For more information or to share your feedback of this year's festival, visit the Peach Festival's Web site at