Shrimp Fest marks opening of annual event

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 7, 2005

Who would ever give up valuable time at work just to go out and listen to music, eat mountains of tasty shrimp, and drink free beer?

Oh, only a few thousand locals!

Roughly 4,000 gathered at the Suffolk Executive Airport Thursday afternoon to welcome the 28th annual Peanut Fest with the Shrimp Fest, which is sponsored by the Suffolk Ruritan Club. (The exact amount raised was unavailable at press time).

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As Island Boy, the Rhondels and Southern Blend rocked the place from the music stages, many milled throughout the area, chowing down on shrimp and beer.

&uot;Of course I did!&uot; said Terri Kutsk, when asked if she’d taken off work to get ‘festive.’ &uot;I knew that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get here until the food was gone. I’m enjoying it.&uot;

Just as they does nearly every year, Suffolk’s Physical Therapy Works on Meade Parkway let its employees out early to go have some fun.

&uot;This is great,&uot; said PTW employee Dan Puckett, at Shrimp Fest for the first time. &uot;I like the free beer, and all the little stands (at Peanut Fest), with the crafts, the peanuts and the music.&uot;

An accounting clerk, Beth Prevatte had to work during the 2004 event.

&uot;I wasn’t going to miss this two years in a row,&uot; she said. &uot;I love it out here. I see a lot of my friends.&uot;

That was a good enough reason for Nansemond River graduate Ashley Witt to enjoy the party.

&uot;I never get to see my friends,&uot; she said, knoshing on some crustaceans. &uot;I’m always at work, or studying, or in school (she’s in the nursing program at Camp Community College). This is the last time I’ll get to see my friends for a while.&uot;

Some of the visitors had some even more celebratory reasons for heading to the Fest.

&uot;This is my first time, and I’m celebrating my 45th birthday,&uot; said Thomasine Lewis. &uot;My family is here, and we’re really having fun. My birthday is Tuesday, and I’ll be working then, but I’m having fun today.&uot;

Brenda Meadows, who said she’d been attending the Peanut Fest for about 27 years, was celebrating her 50th go-round.

&uot;This is girls’ time,&uot; she said, surrounded by her sister and friends. &uot;I get to have some quality time with my girlfriends. All of us work, and all of us are married, but once a year, we all get together.&uot;

As hundreds of his city-mates welcomed the annual event, Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, oversaw the fun.

&uot;I’ve been coming every year since 1985 or 1986,&uot; said Jones, greeting people at the entrance to the eating area. &uot;This is just a good time. It’s a big event, and it’s a chase for everybody in the city to get together and have fun.&uot;