Peanut Fest to offer excitement, cash prizes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Fall is definitely in the air and crisp breezes are snapping the tent flaps out at Suffolk Festivals’ site of the 26th Annual Peanut Fest. The excitement begins at 3 p.m. Thursday with the Suffolk Ruritans’ Shrimp Feast, and tickets are still available for that event at area businesses or from any Suffolk Ruritan. A great plus – once you had your fill of shrimp, fried chicken and barbecue, you can walk right into Peanut Fest.

Those 5,000 pounds of shrimp, specially seasoned and cooked by Sheriff Raleigh H. Isaacs Sr. and his team of Ruritan volunteers, are not the only attraction to be relished at Peanut Fest. Along with rides, great foods, and peanuts galore, there is entertainment Sunday by &uot;Restless Heart,&uot; &uot;Blue Oyster Cult&uot; on Saturday and &uot;Molly Hatchet&uot; on Friday.

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For the children and seniors, there’s &uot;Kiddie Day,&uot; and &uot;Senior Day,&uot; both to enjoy on Friday. Of course, the first-ever appearance of the distinguished Nansemond Indian Tribe in full regalia is also something to look for. There’s also the &uot;Karaoke Contest&uot; set for 7 p.m. Saturday, an event that’s brand new to Peanut Fest this year.

That event is expected to attract just about as many people as the &uot;Bingo Tent.&uot; Bingo is a traditional favorite at Peanut Fest and this year’s games should be something to remember since Skip Blanchard, second vice president of the Portsmouth Fraternal Order of Police, is returning with his special talents and Mike Day will serve as &uot;caller.&uot;

Blanchard and the members of the FOP have volunteered their services to Suffolk Festivals and Peanut Fest.

In addition to Bingo games, Blanchard will also host a &uot;50/50 Raffle,&uot; in which some lucky person walks away with half of whatever amount is generate through ticket sales.

&uot;The tickets for the 50/50 will be $1 each and if we could sell 10,000 tickets, that means someone will win $5,000,&uot; said Blanchard. &uot;With about 150,000 people attending Peanut Fest each year, we hope to sell tickets to at least one-third of that number of people. That means the Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squad, Suffolk Festivals and the FOP will benefit from the raffle.&uot;

Blanchard added that this year is the second in which Peanut Fest has held the Bingo and raffle. Last year, the FOP generated more funding through the Bingo game than every before in the history of the event.

&uot;We hope this 50/50 raffle will be just as successful,&uot; said Blanchard. &uot;The raffle is a first at Peanut Fest but we expect it to be a tremendous hit with visitors to the festival.&uot;

This year marks the second in which the Portsmouth FOP volunteers have assisted with Peanut Fest.

&uot;Linda (Stevens, executive director of Suffolk Festivals) told us last year what a great job we did with the Bingo games and she asked if we would like to come back,&uot; said Blanchard. &uot;I told her of course we would, and this year, we’re having a lighted board, and on seniors day. Friday, we’re providing all the Bingo sheets and the daubers for the games. We are actually pretty excited about coming back to Suffolk…seeing some of the friends we made last year and meeting some new ones.&uot;

Tickets for the 50/50 raffle will be on sale all four days of Peanut Fest, and they may be purchased, $1 each, at the information booth and at the activities tent on Saturday and Sunday.

The drawing for the winning ticket will take place immediately following the Restless Heart performance at 4 p.m., Sunday. You do not have to be present to win.

As Blanchard said, the Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squad will be one of the beneficiaries of the raffle. They will be at the festival in their hospitality booth where they will serve hot coffee.

You will surely want to be present for many other exciting events including the Swamp Road on Saturday at 9 a.m., and the Nationwide Demolition Derby at 6 p.m. Friday. There will be plenty of excitement during the Battle of the Bands on Friday at 7 p.m. At 2 p.m. Sunday, closing day for the Fest, there will be a Gospel Sing on the Harvest Family Stage. This event is all new this year, and Suffolk Festivals Inc. has promised a &uot;Gospel Explosion&uot; in the first event featuring local talent from a number of churches.

Rising St. James is sending its Male Chorus, &uot;Optimistic;&uot; and New Mt. Joy Gospel Choir, the Missouri Baptist Church Praise Dance Team, and St. Paul Baptist Praise Dance Team will be among those bringing Gospel to the festival. Soul Survivors is another great group, and the featured guest from Petersburg is the Virginia State University Gospel Chorale.

Looking at the list of entertainment at Peanut Fest, it is well worth the $7 parking fee, however, it is impossible to enjoy in one day everything the festival has to offer. That makes a four day $12 parking pass a fantastic bargain when you consider all the shows, rides, exhibits, games, entertainment, food and just good, wholesome fun to be found at the fest. Parking passes are available at select Sentry Marts across the city. Look for signs.

Each year, the 250-300 volunteers at Peanut Fest are assisted by Suffolk’s Department of Parks and Recreation. This year, Lakita S. Frazier, a small dynamo for the department, serves her second year on the festival’s executive committee.

&uot;Every year, we look forward to assisting Suffolk Festivals in providing an exciting event,&uot; said Frazier. &uot;The Peanut Festival is a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves of our city’s great heritage, congregate with family and friends and create long lasting memories. We are excited about the activities that our department sponsors and are honored to be a part of such a wonderful event.&uot;