History of Peach Queen Campground
By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith/ Managing Editor
One of Chilton County’s oldest peach-named businesses, Jemison’s Peach Queen Campground has welcomed tourist from around the world while giving them a slice of county flavor and local tradition. The campground was established in 1974 but comes with a much older, deep-rooted family history.
During the 1800s the Dorminey family moved to Jemison from Georgia and set up their homestead of 1,500 acres (which encompassed the Union Grove community, future Jemison interstate exit and campground.) Six generations later, the Dorminey family still lives on the property and operates the RV and campground for those eager to enjoy the great outdoors.
“My great-grandfather, who owned this land, thought that it was more important to have a good neighbor than land, so he gave it away to people in the community to help establish neighbors and a sense of community,” said Donn Dorminey Sr. “He owned a gristmill and gave the lumber and land to build Union Grove church and the school house that was located where the Union Grove fire station is now.”
During the 1950s, congressmen solicited the family for land access to build Interstate 65. Although the family was not initially interested in selling a portion of their land, the Dorminey family gave consent on the condition that a Jemison exit would be built. The congressmen agreed and Exit 219 was made.
During World War II, grandson Shade Dorminey joined the United States Navy, where he met his wife, Lucille while stationed in Connecticut. After World War II, Shade and Lucille decided to take their two children and travel across the United States.
“Those were great years,” said Donn Sr. “We visited every state except for two in the middle. I was 12 years old at the time, and it was a great age to see places like Washington State and California. After two years of travelling, Mother (Lucille) decided that campgrounds were the future of travel. She and my dad decided to set up a campground here in Jemison because of the year-round good weather, which was unlike the weather in Connecticut where Mother grew up.”
The first year that the campground was open Chilton County’s Miss Peach camped at the site. Lucille Dorminey realized that “Peach Queen Campground” was a great name for the campground and would help tourist better understand Chilton County.
During the 1980s, Jemison became a hot spot location for famous country-music artists. Central Alabama Music Park, located on “Music Park Road” or County Road 44 in Jemison, brought in guest artists such as the Oak Ridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, Loretta Lynn and Marty Robbins. Many times when guest artists came to Jemison their tour bus camped at the Peach Queen Campground.
“It was a great experience having many of those artists stay with us,” said Donn Sr. “Barbara and the Mandrell Sisters stayed with us when they came through. It was before any of them were married and their parents were with them, so we got to meet their entire family and talk with them.”
The park is now operated by Donn Sr.’s son, Donn Dorminey Jr. Today, the Peach Queen Campground has a seven-acre lake (which once operated the family gristmill), swimming pool, RV connections, tent sites, volleyball site and playground on 27 acres. Fishing and swimming are available to campers. The Dormineys have plans to build a few 1-2 room cabins, or insulated “glamping” tee-pees that will have access to water and electricity and expand their RV hook-up sites to be larger for families to play.
“I grew up working on the campground during the summertime,” said Donn Jr. “It is a special place to us because it is still in the family. We enjoy meeting people and getting to see people come back year after year. We get an update on the places they have visited since we last saw them.”
Donn Jr. and his wife, Casey, oversee and take care of the campground. Their daughter Kaelena is the sixth generation to live on the property. The couple is also expecting a new baby in September.
“I love that I get to raise my children here,” said Donn Jr. “They will have the same opportunities and memories as I did as a child, fishing and plenty of room to run around in.”