Surry festival revels in pigs, peanuts and pines

Published 8:30 pm Wednesday, July 14, 2010

If you are craving a local festival that celebrates cash crops and can’t last until Peanut Fest, make sure to attend this weekend’s Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival in Surry.

The 35th annual event will be held Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry. Admission is $5 per person each day, with children under age 12 admitted free.

Co-chairman Kenny Pittman said the festival started as a way to do something for the community. The Surry County Bicentennial Committee began the project in 1976.

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“They just wanted to do something for the townspeople,” Pittman said. “They just thought it out as being a community thing. Now, it’s actually gotten larger.”

The festival celebrates the area’s traditional cash crops — pigs, peanuts and pine trees.

“At one time, that’s all Surry county was dependent on,” Pittman said. “Every farmer around here had a pig, and there were peanut fields everywhere.”

A couple of sawmills in the area also were big employers, Pittman said. And Franklin’s paper mill was a longtime buyer of pine logs grown around the area.

“They were just promoting the three major agricultural products that we had.”

Roughly 10,000 people visit the festival each year, he added.

This year’s festival still will feature remnants of the event’s namesakes. Demonstrations and exhibits on sawmills, pork products and peanut-growing will be held, and many food vendors and nonprofit organizations will sell pork chops, barbecue, sausage, peanut candy and more products from both pigs and peanuts.

More than 100 artisans and crafters will be on site, as well, creating everything from jewelry and paintings to floral arrangements and quilts for sale.

An archeology exhibit on site will include two locations, one near the plantation’s mansion and one near an old blacksmith shop. Visitors can view artifacts, see the open dig site and learn how an archeology dig works.

Live entertainment will include a parade on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., and a musical lineup both days that features The Gospel Country Messengers, Ell-Oh-Ell, F.A.B., Southern Heartland, Courtney Haywood, The Galileans, Country Roads Express, Thunder Creek, Heather Edwards and Flatland Bluegrass Band. A petting zoo, rock wall, large slide and pony rides will be available.

The festival also honors Mr. and Miss Peanut 2010. The honorees are usually between the ages of 5 and 7 years old, Pittman said, and usually have a family background in farming.

This year’s Mr. Peanut is 5-year-old Samuel Wayne Pittman. He attends Isle of Wight Academy, and his parents are Steven and Emily Pittman. He enjoys helping his father on the farm, fishing and riding four-wheelers.

Miss Peanut is Olivia Evelyn Richards, also 5. She will attend Tidewater Academy. Her parents are Don and Amy Richards. She enjoys playing with her kitten, swimming, going to the river, snuggling with her mother, watching television and eating her Nana’s macaroni and cheese and her Grammy’s macaroni salad. Olivia’s big sister, Jenna, a former Miss Peanut, will pass the crown to her.

In keeping with the family-friendly atmosphere, Pittman said, no alcoholic beverages will be sold or permitted on site.

For more information about the festival, call 294-3625.