This year’s Grand Marshal for the 58th Lexington County Peach Festival parade will be Lexington County Sheriff Bryan “Jay” Koon. The parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. on July 4th. Sheriff Koon, the 39th Sheriff of Lexington County, will also be the Festival’s 11 a.m. program speaker in the Gilbert Primary School cafetorium. Weather permitting, the start of the parade will be signaled with a fly-over by Don Bell of Bell Aviation in an N3N. Bell’s plane was built in 1940 at the Naval Aircraft factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was used in World War II for training.
Sheriff Koon began his law enforcement career as a Reserve Police Officer for the U.S.C. Division of Law Enforcement and Safety in August of 1993. In 1994, Koon began a 20-year career with the Town of Lexington Police Department where he served stints as a Detective, Patrol Sergeant, Watch Commander, Special Operations Lieutenant, and most recently, Assistant Chief of Police. He is a 1990 graduate of Lexington High School and a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he earned a Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice. Koon is also a 2008 graduate of the FBI National Academy (Session 235, a graduate of Leadership Lexington County, as well as an Eagle Scout. He has volunteered as a coach and leader of several youth baseball programs and scout groups. Koon also serves on the Lexington Technology Center's Advisory Board and is an active member of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers’ Association, the Lexington County Law Enforcement Officers’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Rotary Club of Lexington. Koon is also past President of the FBI National Academy Associates Chapter for South Carolina. Sheriff Koon and his family are members of Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church. Koon resides in Lexington with his wife Kim, a Middle School teacher, and their two children.
The Gilbert Community Club has been sponsoring the Lexington County Peach Festival since it started in 1959. This year parade entries can register online. A deadline for parade registrations this year will not permit last minute entries on the day of the Festival. Last year’s parade winners were Big Blue Marble, first place in the Commercial/Professional category and Comporium receiving second place in that category. In the Civic/Professional category, Beloved Pageants received first place and American Legion Auxiliary Post 217 received the second place award. For Commercial/Non-Professional entries, Gilbert House of Terror won first place with Palmetto Base US Submarine Veterans receiving second place in that category. First Baptist Church Gilbert received first place in the Civic/Non-Professional category, and Gilbert High School FFA received the second place award in this category.
At 9 a.m. on July 4th in the GPS cafetorium, the annual Peach Contest judging will begin. Two categories are a part of the contest: Salads & Main Dishes and Desserts. Each peach dish submitted must include at least two cups of fresh peaches. Contestants must submit a neatly written recipe for each dish that is submitted and an entry form must be completed. First place winners in each category will receive $75, and second place winners will receive $50. Entries are judged on imaginative use of peaches, simplicity and ease of preparation, appearance, and taste.
This year, designated zones will be identified in the park for more efficient response time to possible emergencies. Festival goers should look for the red cross and number on signs that will indicate the zone in which they are located when requesting assistance.
Because of safety concerns, personal ATVs and golf carts will not be permitted in the park and Festival area. Vehicle parking is available at First Baptist Church Gilbert, Crossroads Baptist Church, Gilbert Primary School and Gilbert Elementary School. The parking lot in front of Gilbert Primary School will be designated for handicapped parking only.
This year’s Peach Pageants will be on July 2 at Gilbert Primary School Cafetorium. Admission for each pageant will be $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children 4 and younger. The Baby Division pageants will begin at 10 a.m. The Junior Division pageant will be at 2 p.m., and the Miss Lexington County Peach Queen pageant will be at 7 p.m.