It’s time to go from crazy to nuts

Published 8:50 pm Saturday, June 26, 2010

It doesn’t take very long to appreciate Suffolk’s tremendous history. From the historic buildings, markers and monuments, Suffolk has done well to document its impact on many of the historical events that helped shape our country.

From the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, through the Great Depression through the Civil Rights Movement, Suffolk has played a role.

It is the peanut, however, that Suffolk probably takes the most pride in.

Regardless of the fact that the number of acres growing peanuts has greatly diminished over the past decades, Suffolk is still home to a number of peanut producers and the birthplace of Mr. Peanut.

And, the upcoming Peanut Festival remains the largest annual festival hosted within the city limits.

In short, the peanut is one impressive, and important, little nut.

Growing up in Alabama, I was keenly aware of the many uses for the peanut developed by Booker T. Washington while working at the Tuskegee Institute in central Alabama. It’s part of the Alabama history books and something often studied and celebrated throughout that portion of the state.

In a part of the state often referred to as the Wiregrass, peanut production is one of the largest and most profitable crops grown each year. In fact, last year’s Suffolk Peanut Festival was the second peanut festival I’ve had the chance to cover in my career, the other being the Peanut Festival in Dothan, Ala.

But, unlike that area, Suffolk continues to celebrate its connection to the peanut. Each visiting speaker at the Suffolk Rotary Club is presented a container of “Suffolk’s finest” peanuts as a gift. And, how many of you have the iconic “NUTS” sticker affixed to the back of your car.

And now, we have a chance to help ensure that Suffolk peanuts – rather Virginia peanuts – are recognized as the “nation’s finest.” We have a chance to show those in Alabama — and especially Georgia — that we know what we’re doing when it comes to the peanut.

As part of the Tuesday’s annual Congressional Baseball Game in Washington, D.C., Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call, Capitol Hill’s newspaper, are sponsoring the best-tasting peanut contest.

An online poll, currently accepting votes at www.cqrollcall.com/baseball, is pitting the states of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia against one another. And it’s a close vote so far.

With nearly 6,700 votes cast so far, Virginia has a slight lead (38 percent) over Georgia (37 percent). For the record, Alabama is in fifth place with 6 percent (that’s alright, we’re getting ready for college football season. Roll Tide.)

Now is the time to act.

We need to make sure Virginia assumes its proper place in the world as producers of the best tasting peanuts.

I have come to fully appreciate that Virginians — and Suffolkians — are crazy about their peanuts, but if we are not able to pull out this victory, then we are simply “nuts.”