Shrimp Feast exchange announced

Published 10:54 pm Friday, October 18, 2013

The Suffolk Ruritan Club has decided to give ticketholders to last week’s weather-shortened Shrimp Feast free admission to next year’s event.

The 36th Shrimp Feast last Thursday ended about an hour after it began in the midst of a late-season thunderstorm. Lightning struck the site, almost hitting volunteers, and several inches of rain left the grounds a soggy mess.

Folks paid $30 for each ticket, which entitled them to all-you-can-eat shrimp, barbecue, chicken, sides and beer, plus musical entertainment. However, the bands had canceled before the event started, and on-site food service ended early after the weather came through. People who made it to the site were able to get a takeout plate, but some never got there at all after Airport Road was shut down.

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Club President Howard Helenbrook said the club considered three options, which also included $10 off next year’s event or doing nothing at all.

“We gave the most expensive one away,” he said. “We don’t make any money off this event. We just do it for the community and give it back to the community.”

Helenbrook said the organization “obviously took a big hit this year” financially because of the rain, and that effect will carry over into next year because of the ticket exchange.

“We appreciate the community supporting us in our Shrimp Feast all these years,” he said. “That’s why we’re trying to be as fair as possible and do this one-for-one ticket exchange and make it a little more palatable to people.”

Details will be released closer to next year’s event about how to exchange tickets, he said.

In the history of the event, the group has given away more than $1.4 million in proceeds to many community organizations, Shrimp Feast co-chairman E.C. Harris said at last week’s event. This was the first time it had ever ended early.