Suffolk Ruritans have tickets on sale for Shrimp Feast

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 14, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Tickets are still available for the city’s largest – and tastiest – community party: The Suffolk Ruritan Club’s 26th Annual Shrimp Feast. Through ticket sales, Suffolk Ruritans have dispersed $576,000 in the community over the past 25 years as a testimony to their commitment to service to others.

The Oct. 9 event, which kicks off the Peanut Fest, has become a tradition for thousands of Hampton Roads residents.

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People keep coming back because they find the best-tasting spiced, steamed shrimp this side of New Orleans, said Ruritan C. Phillips &uot;Phil&uot; Ferguson, who along with his son Scott P. Ferguson is helping organize the annual event.

Ruritan Sheriff Raleigh H. Isaacs Sr. and his fellow club members steam more than five tons of shrimp using a special secret recipe that Isaacs perfected with years of practice. While he won’t give up the recipe, Isaacs notes, there are never leftovers at the feast.

Scott Ferguson noted that shrimp lovers aren’t the only connoisseurs at the feast.

&uot;We are prepared for everyone’s tastes,&uot; said Ferguson, assistant vice president of First Federal Savings Bank. &uot;We will have plenty of food and bottomless cups of beverages to suit everyone’s taste.&uot;

If peeling your own shrimp sounds like too much work, don’t panic. There’s also fried chicken, Carolina-style barbecue, coleslaw, potato salad, hush puppies, rolls, and iced tea (or stronger beverages for those who prefer).

&uot;No one should leave this event hungry,&uot; Ferguson said.

Suffolk Ruritans share their great shrimp each year to support the community that has supported them, said Ferguson.

The shrimp feast is the club’s primary fundraiser, generating money that the club feeds back into the community through various donations and civic projects. For example, in 2000-2001, the Suffolk Ruritans donated nearly $31,000 to a variety of organizations, including the Suffolk Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Nansemond Suffolk Rescue Squad, scholarships and the like.

Suffolk Ruritans began back in 1978 when a small group of Suffolk residents decided it was time that the Ruritans had a club named for the city. The effort was a success with 30 residents who went on to become the charter members. Herman W. Bunch Jr. served as the first president.

Suffolk Ruritans have become regionally famous for their annual Shrimp Feasts, which attracts thousands from throughout the state to the Peanut Festival. As its largest fundraiser, the Ruritans have been able to consistently fund scholarships, assist youth programs, donate to rescue squads, and many other organizations.

In addition to the more than half million the club has generated over the past 25 years, another $225,000 has gone back to Suffolk Festivals as part of a long-standing agreement in collaboration with the Shrimp Feast.

Tickets for Shrimp Feast can be purchased at a number of businesses, including the Suffolk division of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, First Federal Savings Bank, Bennetts Creek Pharmacy and Oliver’s Grocery.