Suffolk airport starts transformation into the site of city’s largest festivity

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 2004

Special to the News-Herald

Its festival time in Suffolk.

This fact was made obvious on Wednesday by the sudden appearance of the big white tents in the fields near Suffolk Executive Airport on Route 13 South (Whaleyville Boulevard).

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The tents are there along with a huge assortment of other necessary items for the &uot;27th Annual Peanut Fest,&uot; an event that draws more than 200,000 people from many states each year.

This year, Peanut Fest begins Oct. 7 and runs through the 10th, with a wide array of exciting events, including Friday night fireworks, a National Demolition Derby, contests, shows, musical groups, and food and fun for everyone.

One tent that has become a favorite is the &uot;County Fair,&uot; the first tent on the right after passing through the Red Gate at the fest.

Marsha Patterson and Cathy Winslow, two of more than 300 volunteers who put the Peanut Fest together each year, co-chair the committee for the County Fair tent.

Patterson, a five year volunteer, said she greatly enjoys helping get the event together and they are currently setting up bleachers inside the tent where all the items for the judging contest will be placed.

&uot;We have everything canned from the garden that you could think of,&uot; said Patterson. &uot;Then we have wood crafters, artists, and those who work with cross stitch and crewel work. With the canners, they make everything from jams and jellies, to pickles, green beans, tomatoes and an assortment of other goodies. All have to be prepared to certain USDA standards to enter the contest and everyone seems to love the County Fair tent.&uot;

Patterson and Winslow have been working on the project for a year now, and according to both, they have a great show organized for everyone who loves the county fair atmosphere. The tent and event is sponsored by Duke Automotive.

Speaking of atmosphere, Friday night fireworks begin at 9 p.m., and that should provide plenty of ambiance with which to enjoy the wonderful festival foods and snacks available at Peanut Fest.

Also lending to the rich atmosphere of a hometown country fair will be the rides, games, exhibits, and musical groups scheduled to appear at this year’s event.

Look for Lakeland and Nansemond River High Schools as they stroll the grounds of Peanut Fest and all along Peanut Fest Way and Boozenut Lane, playing and singing for your enjoyment.

There is a vast array of entertainment including the kiddie day activities in the &uot;Gooberland Family Area, sponsored by Duke Automotive and Sentara Family Care, and the rides and parking are free until noon on Friday, Oct. 8.

On the other end of the age scale, Senior Citizen Day Activities take place at 10 a.m., and they also get free parking until 10 a.m.

The participants of the &uot;First Annual Peanut Fest Horseshoe Tournament&uot; can also get free parking by showing up before 9 a.m. with a horseshoe. That event should be fun for viewers as well as participants and it’s sanctioned by the Horseshoe Association.

This year’s events will kick off Saturday with the Peanut Fest Parade in Downtown Suffolk. The fun begins at 10 a.m., on West Washington Street and North Main Street, and this event is sponsored by Sun Trust Bank & New Dominion Pictures.

It’s produced by Suffolk Parks & Recreation and Dominion Virginia Power Volunteers, and it’s all free. Look for free parking in the Downtown Parking lots on Market and Cherry Streets and behind the court house on Commerce Street.

Look for the schedule of events, special activities and entertainment in the pages of

the 2004 Peanut Fest souvenir program, which is free as you enter the gates at the 27th Annual Peanut Fest.