Queen’s banquet gets update

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, July 10, 2014

Each year, Suffolk honors a Peanut Fest “royal” tradition by selecting a queen and her court to reign throughout the city’s premier festival.

The Pilot Club of Suffolk will honor the queen and her court at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 during the Peanut Fest Queen’s Banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn Riverfront.

This is the first year for the evening banquet, which will boast live entertainment and a silent auction. In years past, the event has been a luncheon.

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To be chosen to be a part of this hometown tradition, each young lady who wishes to be a candidate must be rising high school senior at a Suffolk school. Each candidate submits an essay reflecting on the current festival theme, along with information about her school activities, awards and achievements, and community involvement.

Tickets for the banquet are $30 per person and may be purchased between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily at the Suffolk Visitor Center, 524 North Main St. in downtown Suffolk.

Since 1941, the peanut festivities have included an array of pageantry and the coronation of a queen and her court. The first “Queen Arachis Hypogea” (the botanical name for the peanut plant), Olive Cawley from New Jersey, was attired in an all-peanut gown, and her entourage included 50 princesses from dozens of communities and neighboring states.

The second festival queen, Patricia Donnelly of Detroit, had been the 1939 Miss America. She was greeted at the airport by dignitaries, including Amedeo Obici, who scattered roasted peanuts at her feet rather than the traditional rose petals.

The modern predecessor of today’s festival, Harvest Fest, was started in 1978, and the festival queen was chosen by the general public. Since then, the title has been bestowed to scores of young ladies, along with the task of representing the festival and the city of Suffolk and an array of activities.

The 37th Annual Suffolk Peanut Festival is scheduled for Oct. 9-12. The Suffolk Peanut Fest Queen’s Banquet Show is sponsored by Planters and Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center.

For more information about Suffolk Peanut Fest and associated concerts, events and games, visit SuffolkFest.org or facebook.com/SuffolkPeanutFest.