We need Peanut Fest

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005


There are few other words that sum up the 2005 Suffolk Peanut Festival as neatly.

A huge downpour hit the festival site moments before the official opening on Friday, leaving mud and standing pools of water that only got deeper as the days passed.

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Saturday was a complete washout, and by the time Joe Diffie began tuning up Sunday afternoon to sing “John Deere Green,” the grounds were a mudpit, fit for little more than hog farming.

Nonetheless, people came. Good crowds turned out Friday while rain came and went; people even had to be turned away at 2 p.m. Saturday when officials decided to shut it down.

The Sunday crowd was good, despite cool weather and the mud, and they stayed until the 7 p.m. close.

The fact that so many people came out to the festival despite the conditions is testament to its importance to our city and its people. We need the Peanut Fest. We need it for all the civic groups that make

money that they put back into the community through their good works; we need it to attract people to our city; and we need it for a good party.

While we haven’t heard any numbers, there’s little doubt that festival officials are counting up their losses today and wondering what the future holds.

While the city of Suffolk makes an enormous contribution to the festival in terms of providing services, there needs to be room made in the city’s budget for whatever funding is needed to make sure that Peanut Fest not only survives, but thrives. We could list many other less-deserving activities that receive city budget inclusion year in and year out.

The danger is in the festival becoming a “city” event. It shouldn’t. The independent festival board needs to retain full control of the event, whether city funding is $1 or $1 million. They’ve been in the festival business a long time and know what they are doing; they just need a little luck.

Much like the Cheer Fund and Toys for Tots Campaign, the Peanut Fest is a “Suffolk” event, with many groups working together to make it a success as well as a great source of civic pride.