The good people of Clanton, AL are to my knowledge only known for one thing – Peaches. Chilton County peaches are known in Alabama as the best, and the Clantonites (yup, I just made that word up, deal with it.) are so proud of them that even their water tower is the shape of a giant peach. It is no surprise that this peachy town is also home to an age old peach farm rivalry. Durbin Farms and Peach Park lie on opposite side of interstate I-65 at exit 205. I had to go to there.
If you live in Clanton, you are either a Durbin Farms fan or a Peach Park fan. From what I could tell, both places in essence provide the same products but with a few differences. I’ll explain.
Durbin Farms is a long time institution in Clanton. Established in 1933, the initial location consisted of an open air farm stand type of situation. Over the years the place has evolved into a restaurant/farmer’s market/souvenir shop. I visited Durbin Farms first, not because I am biased but simply because it was on right side of the highway coming back from Birmingham. First impression: You can make A LOT of things out of peaches. In addition to selling peach butter, peach preserves, peach bread, peach chutney, peach dressing, peach cider, pickled spiced peaches, peach salsa, peach spread, peach cobbler syrup, peach pie, they also sell fresh peaches when in season.
There are two parts to Durbin Farms, the open air market where you buy produce, whole pies, souvenirs and peach products to take home and the restaurant where you get the stuff you want to eat right now.
PeachPark is more or less set up the same way. There is an open air part and if you walk passed it you’ll find yourself in a diner style restaurant park where you can get Barbeque, ice cream, pie and more.
There are a few significant differences between the two businesses.
1. If you are looking for a fun place for kids, go to Peach Park. Like the name indicates, there is in fact a small park with a peach in it behind the building. There are various odd and sometimes seemingly misplaced plastic animals strewn all over said park in the shape of horses, cows, pandas, and pigs. There are lots of hiding places and there is even a playground if you walk up a small hill. Durbin Farms has a parking lot, not very magical at all.
2. Durbin Farms has from what I saw, a better selection of produce. Maybe it is the presentation, maybe the time of day I was there. Maybe they just have better produce.
3. Major bonus points go to Peach Park for selling small jars of their peach butter. I bought a jar from Durbin Farms for about $7. I found a smaller jar for less than $3 at Peach Park. I ate toast with peach butter everyday, multiple times a day for a week and I still have a ton left from the big jar. If you don’t eat jam/preserves/butter like that, I suggest grabbing the little jar from Peach Park.
4. Peach Park has some pretty rad rocking chairs on their side porch that I plan to test out while sucking down some peach ice cream next time I am in town. There are rocking chairs at Durbin Farms too but no porch, just a parking lot.
5. Both places have ample space for parking, even with a tour bus or an RV. You don’t have to worry about not finding a spot.
6. Durbin Farms has a website where you can order their stuff and they will ship it to you anywhere in the U.S. Except for California, sorry. Peach Park does not have a website nor will they ship anything to you.
Even though Durbin Farms has been in the same location since the 1930’s and Peach Park has “only” been around for about 30 years, Peach Park feels older and more like an old Clanton institution. The restaurant feels like an old cafeteria from the 80’s and the set up just gives an older impression. A reliable Clanton source told me that Durbin Farms had to reinvent themselves when Peach Park arrived on the scene to compete with them. Before Peach Park, Durbin Farms only sold peaches and produce; there was no restaurant or gift shop. I think that Durbin Farms has leaped into the 21st century while Peach Park is still in the 1980′s. I am not passing judgement, just making an observation. Ok, there is a little bit of judgement, get a website already!
Even though, both places will say that the rivalry is friendly, they confirm that it is very real. As far as the food goes, it is a matter of preference. Some folks are Durbin people, others are Peach Park fans. My suggestion is to grab a friend, order something to eat from both places and decide what team you are on. As far as the peaches go, they all come from the same county and they all are the best in Alabama. Ask anyone from Clanton, they’ll tell you.