Get excited for Peanut Fest

Published 8:07 pm Friday, September 30, 2011

Can you feel it in the air, Suffolk? The anticipation, I mean.

I can almost hear the sounds of people milling about the fairway, cars crunching and screeching during the demolition derby, bands playing, kids laughing and parents attempting to wrangle them.

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I swear I smelled roasting peanuts and funnel cake in downtown Suffolk a few nights ago.

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With signs already pointing fairgoers in the right direction and banners announcing its arrival weeks before the official festivities begin, it’s hard not to get excited about the Suffolk Peanut Festival.

“It’s the best festival in the state,” Fleet Garnett told me during an interview. Garnett co-chairs the festival with Randy Bryum. “It’s a lot to see out here. I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t come out to this festival.”

Which is why my confession that I had never been shocked him to silence, followed by a stern order to attend this year’s event. Well, maybe I was imagining Garnett’s disappointment, but his passion is enough to make anyone feel bad about not partaking of all the volunteers’ hard work.

Needless to say, I’ve been a bad honorary Suffolkian. But that’s all going to change this year, when I finally get to join the festivities.

A quick scan of the events list found at the festival’s website — — leaves me ready to celebrate peanuts in all the ways the festival’s organizers have devised.

I can’t wait to sample some of the fare, both peanut-based and otherwise. Nothing says fall in Suffolk like a big bag of freshly roasted peanuts. And you know I’ll be in line for a funnel cake, maybe two if I feel up to it.

You can bet I’ll be cheering on those braver than I as they attempt to eat a mountain of jalapenos.

And I’ve been oddly fascinated ever since I heard that festivalgoers can sculpt peanut butter into whatever fantastical shapes they can imagine in an event that is wholly unique to the Suffolk festival.

Perhaps the only bad part about the Suffolk Peanut Festival is that it’s a whole week away.

Can’t wait for the festival either?

If you make it downtown this morning, you’ll get a taste of the festivities with the Peanut Fest Parade, set to begin at 10 a.m. today.

Floats, marching bands and Shriners in undersized cars never fail to create just the right mood for a festival.

And if that’s not enough to hold you until Friday, consider supporting the Ruritans as they put on their annual kick-off to the festival with Thursday’s Ruritan Shrimp Feast.

Judging by what I’ve learned about Suffolk after spending most of my life never quite making the trek down here, any festival that claims to celebrate the city and its beloved legume is worth the wait.

So grab yourself a handful of peanuts to tide you over. And look for me and the rest of the News-Herald gang during the festival.