Much of Arizona's fruit and vegetable farming takes place in the Sulphur Springs Valley, around the town of Wilcox which is about 100 miles east of Tucson on I-10. The most well-known concern is Apple Annies Orchard and Produce Farm which features pick-your-own produce and a series of festivals summer-long. Apple Annies most popular event is the Peach Mania Festival which runs on weekends from mid-July through mid-August. The festival also includes a Country Crafts Fair generally scheduled the first weekend of August, this year, August 4-5, 2007. This weekend usually coincides with Sonoita Vineyards' Augustfest allowing the traveler to attend both events on the same weekend. Sonoita is only about 75 miles from Wilcox.
Of course, the highlight of the Peach Mania Festival is the availability of tree-ripe peaches in several varieties. Visitors may grab a bucket, then ride the a tractor-drawn wagon out to the peach tree groves where they can pick their own peaches. Stands are also set up selling picked peaches. These are slightly more expensive than self-picked and far less fun. Several varieties of apples are also available for self-picking, as well as Asian pears.
The festival features several other "culinary" experiences. An "all-you-can-eat" peach pancake breakfast is served to 10:30am. For lunch, applewood-smoked burgers are served up. Hot roasted sweet corn is sold all day long. The Peach Pavillion offers a variety of sweet treats such as homemade peach pie or homemade peach ice cream.
The Country Craft Fair features independent local vendors (photo, right) selling their wares.
Apple Annies has various festivals throughout the growing season. Look for the Sweet Corn Extravaganza in July, the Apple Harvest Celebration on Labor Day weekend, and the Fall Pumpkin Celebration in late September and October. Apple Annies grows a wide variety of apples, including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty and Criterion apples.
Apple Annies Produce and Pumpkins is actually a separate farm located several miles from Apple Annies Orchard. This farm offers a variety of vegetables to the public, including sweet corn, tomatoes, squash, peppers, chilies and pumpkins. Many varieties are available for self-picking at a slightly reduced cost. The biggest treat here is the frshly picked sweet corn when available.
For more information, visit the Apple Annies website. The orchard is located on W. Hardy Road and the produce farm on W. Williams Road. Take Exit-340 on I-10 (Wilcox) and head north on Fort Grant Road. Watch the turnoff signs for Apple Annies.
More on Arizona Farm Country. The Sulphur Springs Valley runs north and south of Wilcox, Arizona. This fertile valley produces a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables with a host of farms offering their wares directly to the public during the growing season, mid-summer to early fall. Some farms specialize in organic produce. Many offer the "U-Pick" option where you can pick your own vine or tree ripe produce at a reduced price. Due to the valley's relatively high elevation, fruit trees, particularly apples and peaches, are especially abundant.
Arizona Summer Harvest Festivals
Sonoita Vineyard's Augustfest