Utah's Fruit Harvest Festivals
Celebrate the bounty at these delicious fruit festivals while on the Road to Mighty.
When the first pioneers settled into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, they wasted little time planting subsistence crops, but they also brought with them seeds and bare root fruit trees for food of the sweeter variety.
Once orchards along the Wasatch Front began to bestow a bounty of fruit to its inhabitants, there was often more than they could handle, so preservation was paramount. Dried fruit leather, jams, marmalades, pickles, and more were made from dozens of apple varieties, as well as peaches, sweet and tart cherries, melons, and berries. Fruit galore.
Fruit has historical value to Utah, because it was essential to the seasonal and year-round diets of the early settlers, yet it remains vital today. So the harvest season is celebrated throughout Utah at several fruit festivals, some more than a 100 years old.
While Utah’s soil and precipitation aren’t as lucrative for growing fruit as climes found in, say, California or the Southeast, you’d be hard pressed to find a more delicious peach than in Brigham City or a sweeter melon than in Green River. Local simply tastes better.
Find yourself munching on fruit and seeing a slice of small town Americana at a harvest festival while on your summer road trip through Utah.
Brigham City Peach Days — September, weekend following Labor Day
There might be more beautiful stretches of historic Highway 89 in Utah, but the miles from South Willard to Brigham City are assuredly the sweetest. Along the Fruit Highway — as is its aptly-titled moniker — many established multi-generational fruit stands, along with many growers selling out of flatbed trucks and trailers, sell in-season fruit from the surrounding foothills. While an abundance of fruit is grown here, none are as famous as the peaches.
The Brigham City Peach Days began in 1904 as a day off from the harvest and a time to celebrate an abundance of peaches. Now, the festival is the longest continually-running harvest festival in Utah, and according to Brigham City, it is the second oldest in the country.
Nearly 50,000 attendees come for the multi-faceted peach-filled weekend. On Friday, you can attend the junior parade at 6 p.m. and a classic car show with 1,000 cars, making it Utah's largest car show and the largest free car show in the West. Saturday offers the Fireman Association breakfast, a softball tournament, a fun-filled 10K, a 10 a.m. parade, and a 1 p.m. motorcycle show. And, of course, there shall be lots and lots of peaches.
Bear Lake Raspberry Days — first weekend of August
From the Fruit Highway, head north and onward to Bear Lake for a very berry treat. Named the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its majestic turquoise hue and ample water sports recreation, Bear Lake attracts thousands of tourists throughout the summer, and especially during the three weeks in July and August when the raspberry harvest is on.
With the harvest, a number of family-friendly activities occur during the annual Raspberry Days Festival. The three-day event is held in Garden City, on the shores of Bear Lake, where you’ll get to see the Little Miss Berry Pageant, a craft fair, and an abundance of entertainment. There’s even a 5K run, which will help to burn off the calories consumed while eating too many world-famous raspberry shakes. And when you aren’t at the festival, you can head to the lake to play.
The hallmarks of the festival are the Pancake Breakfast at the Garden City Park, a town rodeo, the Parade on the Boulevard, and a boat parade on the lake. The festival ends in a big shebang with fireworks on the beach of Bear Lake.
Melon Days — third weekend of September
To say that Green River is crazy about melons is an understatement. Imagine large — no, voluptuous — Crenshaws, Canaries, cantaloupes, honeydews, and watermelons piled in huge bins. And now, imagine the sticky, sweet juices from the melon of your choice running down your arm. Smiles abound. Indeed, the town of Green River is a must-stop en route to more adventures on the Green River or Moab area for the melons. But working the three-day Melon Days festival into your road trip is also an act of ingenious trip planning.
Utah’s prime melon-growing place with more than 100 years of experience, Green River has ideal conditions for growing the fruit—hot days, cool nights, sandy soil, minimal water. And you’ll note how sweet they are at Melon Days when local farmers donate thousands of pounds of watermelons, cantaloupe, and Crenshaw melons at the all-you-can-eat cut melon tasting. There’s also whole melons for purchase.
But the activities go beyond simply eating. Don’t miss the 24-hour softball tour, a bounce house, square dancing, queen pageant, pancake breakfast, 5k run/walk, and the barn-burning seed-spitting contest. Finally, on Saturday, the parade takes over downtown at 10 a.m.; Green River’s people and their vehicles get decorated to match the melontastic theme.