History of the South Carolina Peach Festival
Smith’s Studio photographer Jim Compton never dreamed a phone call would result in Cherokee County becoming the home of the South Carolina Peach Festival. Compton was the Chamber of Commerce director in early 1977. He was having a conversation one day in his office with Jack Blanton about what the Chamber could do to help cast the city in a more positive light.
“The Gaffney Strangler was still in the memory of most residents as well as the entire upper region of South Carolina. We were attracting a large number of industrial prospects to the area at the same,” said Compton, noting 43 companies visited Cherokee County in 1976.
During their conversation, Blanton told Compton he had heard the Greer Jaycees had dropped their charter for the South Carolina Peach Festival.
“We discussed the fact that it was our belief that due to Sunny Slope Farms, Cash Farms, and other peach growers within our area that this might be a great thing to look into,” Compton said.
Compton immediately called the Secretary of State’s office in Columbia and spoke with a young lady in the office who granted charters. She confirmed the Peach Festival charter was available.
“While Jack sat listening to the conversation, I decided not to waste any time, requesting my contact to please forward all necessary application papers to us ASAP, which she did the same day,” Compton recalled. “Shortly following the conversation, Raymond Parker came in and joined with Jack and myself. They were both members of my board of directors at the time and Dr. Ron Barrett was president.”
The application arrived two days later. Compton completed the form for the South Carolina Peach Festival charter. The application was immediately mailed back to the Secretary of State’s office.
“We advised the Chamber of Commerce board of directors at the next meeting that should they feel we should not pursue the application, that we could turn it back in. Fortunately, the board was 100 percent in support of what we had done,” Compton said. “We felt we had achieved a coup! Fellow Chamber of Commerce executives in the Upstate called following the announcement to congratulate us on this achievement on behalf of Cherokee County.”