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A peach of a deal: Rotary Peach Sale set for Aug. 17-18 in DL

Kathy Michaelson, left, fundraising chair for the Detroit Lakes Breakfast Rotary, and Darrell Bauder, Rotary Peach Sale co-chair, are once again ready to sell a truckload of tree-ripened peaches at the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Peach Sale, which is set for Aug. 17-18. (Not pictured: Peach Sale co-chair Doug Gillam)1 / 2
Rotary Peach Sale co-chair Doug Gillam has been working closely with Georgia-based Sunburst Fruits to make sure that the tree-ripened peaches ordered for this year's sale will be picked and shipped with optimal timing for maximum freshness and taste – but following the directions will help extend that freshness by several weeks. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

There's nothing quite like the taste of a fresh, tree-ripened Georgia peach — which is probably why the Detroit Lakes Breakfast Rotary Club's annual Peach Sale fundraiser has become so popular since it was first implemented a dozen years ago.

"We usually sell out by about mid-afternoon on the second day," says Kathy Michaelson, the club's fundraising chair, who helps organize the event along with Peach Sale co-chairs Doug Gillam and Darrell Bauder.

This year's two-day sale is set for next Friday and Saturday, Aug. 17-18, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day — but those who want to purchase large quantities of those fresh, juicy peaches are encouraged to come on the first day, as the fruit is sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"We don't do pre-orders," Michaelson said. "We sell them by the lug (two layers per box, for $35 each) and half-lug (one layer per box, $20), and there is no limit on how many a person can purchase. You can come buy the whole truck if you want it!"

Once again, the peach sale will be held at two locations, in the parking lots in front of the Boys & Girls Club Thrift Store and the old Kmart building, which are located on the south side of Highway 10 on the east (thrift store) and west (Kmart) edges of town.

Because the club has so few boxes at the end of the sale, they often will close out the Kmart site about halfway through the second day and bring the remaining boxes over to the thrift store for the remainder of the sale, Michaelson said, "so if there isn't anybody left at the Kmart site you can always come over to the thrift store to see what's left."

What makes these peaches so popular, Michaelson continued, is that they're tree-ripened: Rather than picking them while green and letting the fruit ripen during shipment, the peaches are left on the tree until fully ripe, which enhances their sweetness and gives them a more nuanced flavor.

She noted that the Breakfast Rotary Peach Sale has been going on for about 12 years now, since Rotarian Delta Daggett of Daggett Trucking in Frazee came up with the idea after getting a glimpse of the beautiful, tree-ripened fruit that his company was hauling for other nonprofits in the area.

"He said, why don't we try a peach sale here?" Michaelson added. "And it's been going ever since."

The club purchases about 700 boxes of the peaches from Sunburst Fruits (www.sunburstplus.com) in Atlanta, Ga., which specializes in raising fruits for fundraising efforts like theirs.

"Doug Gillam (Peach Sale co-chair) is in continual contact with Sunburst Fruits, monitoring how fast the fruit is ripening, so we can schedule our sale," Michaelson said. "The sale dates vary from year to year, because it's all weather dependent. They're picked and shipped immediately after ripening."

Tree-ripened fruits need to have special care to maximize the amount of time they remain fresh, she added, noting that each box sold at the Rotary Peach Sale includes an instruction sheet that tells how to do just that.

"They're picked from the tree when ripe, which means that they're going to be warm," she said. "When you put them in a refrigerated truck, condensation forms on the bottom of the holders, so you have to wipe them off when you get them."

There are other instructions for storage that help maximize their freshness period as well, Michaelson said, adding, "They last for about six weeks if you care for them properly, but you need to follow the care sheet exactly."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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