Let the fest begin

Published 9:44 pm Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One of the first things I saw when I started working at the paper was a blown up cover shot of Mr. Peanut for our Suffolk Living magazine. I quickly became acquainted with the city’s rich history in peanut farming and production.

I’ve had the honor of talking to producers and have written my fair share of stories on everything peanut related — from peanut month to peanut products to peanut harvesting equipment. This summer, I’ve been following the condition of the crops.

Throughout all of this, there is one peanut-related activity I have not had the chance to enjoy. That is the Peanut Festival, and boy, it has been a long time in coming.

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I’ve been writing stories on events surrounding the Peanut Festival since July.

It started with the ticket sales for a souped-up golf cart being raffled off by the Suffolk Rotary club — and if you haven’t bought tickets for it, you should. All the proceeds go directly to the club’s charity fund.

The cart was soon followed by the announcement of the Queen’s Luncheon, which gave me a history lesson in the tradition of the Peanut Queen and a front-row seat the day of the event. Chicken salad has never tasted so good as at that luncheon.

Then came the Shrimp Feast ticket sales. As a big fan of the delightful pink crustaceans, I can’t think of a better way to start a weekend of fun. Get your tickets at the door and join hundreds of your best friends in Suffolk at the fair grounds tonight.

For the Suffolk News-Herald’s Peanut Festival tab, I had a heart-to-heart with this year’s Peanut Queen, Megan Johnson. Megan is more likely to be seen ripping up the field in a Lakeland High School field hockey game than on a pageant stage a la the second Peanut Queen, who was also the 1939 Miss America, but I wouldn’t put anything past her. She is truly the epitome of female strength and determination, on the field and off it.

I went from peanut princesses to rough-and-tumble in a heartbeat when I did interviews for the crowd-favorite demolition derby. I’ve been told by so many people not to miss it.

I’ve also been within earshot of my co-workers while they’ve been doing interviews for concerts and all other things festival related, and it sounds like I’ve missed out on some fun stuff.

Just days away from the festival, I finished an article on the Swamp Roar, which sounds like a sight you’ll have to see to believe. Although, you’ll probably hear it coming first.

For good measure, I went out to the site to photograph everyone setting rides and tents up on Wednesday.

I’m a sucker for carnival food and the atmosphere. Seeing those funnel cake stands was like dangling a carrot in front of a horse’s nose.

Here’s to being excited to finally — emphasis on finally — being able to get a real taste of one of Suffolk’s finest peanut products.