CLANTON, Ala. (WBRC) In the early 80s, Gene Gray, a Chilton County peach farmer, had an idea for selling his peaches. Instead of hauling them to market, he would build a destination so people could come to him. The result was a place called Peach Park where generations of travelers have come to shop, rest, let their children play and buy genuine Chilton County peach products.
“I was a sophomore in high school when my Dad opened Peach Park. He wanted a way to sell them here locally, everything that we raised so we wouldn’t have to haul them anywhere else,” says Peach Park’s Mark Gray.
If you like peaches, Peach Park is still the place.
“That’s what people get off the Interstate for and we try make everything that you can think of out of peaches.”
Along the way, Mark and his family have learned the peach business isn’t always peachy.
Mark remembers, “God gave us a bad year where we had a hailstorm and knocked a lot of chunks out of some peaches and stuff like that, so Dad was looking for a way to use those peaches and cutting them up and putting them on a fresh fruit bar was just a great idea, so we started the fruit bar. My Mom started making ice cream because Dad had started it, but he was messing it up, so Mom had to rescue it with some really good recipes of homemade ice cream that we still stick to today. "
You’ll still find Frances Gray making ice cream but that’s only the beginning of Peach Park’s offerings.
Mark explains, “We cut up peaches for the fresh fruit bar. We do peach pies, fried peach pies. We do peach cobbler, peach candy, peach pound cake. If you think of it, we probably make it out of a peach.”
Peach Park is more than peaches. It’s an experience, still part of Mark’s father’s dream, “He wanted it to be a stop, like mid-way to the beach or a destination point where you could stop, get out, stretch your legs and let the kids run wild for just a little while and play, and then when you got back in the car they’d sleep, hopefully until you made it to the beach. He always said that every year we need to do something different.”
“Even if it’s your 4,000th time to visit us, we’ve got something that you didn’t have the time before. Once you’re a customer, we want you to keep coming back.”
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