After the rain, a festival

Published 8:00 pm Monday, October 5, 2015

The 2015 Peanut Fest is still a go. Workers spent the day on Monday setting up tents and various amusement rides for guests to enjoy this weekend.

The 2015 Peanut Fest is still a go. Workers spent the day on Monday setting up tents and various amusement rides for guests to enjoy this weekend.

Get ready for food, music, rides, peanuts and more, because despite the recent heavy rains, the 38th annual Suffolk Peanut Fest will begin Thursday at the Suffolk Executive Airport.

“I’ve been promised sunshine,” Theresa Earles, Peanut Fest publicity coordinator, said of this weekend’s weather forecast.

Organizers of the event had taken down one of their biggest tents in order to protect it from wind damage, said Angie Twiford, assistant director of Suffolk Festivals Inc.

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But the tent has already been put back up, and organizers are continuing to move ahead with the event’s preparation. While the rain may have slowed them down, organizers are working hard during the next few days to ensure Peanut Fest is ready in time, Twiford said.

City officials have said the Whaleyville area got almost 9 inches of rain from a low pressure system that stalled over the Southeast for much of the last week, and all that water has had an effect on festival preparations.

The Suffolk Ruritan Club Shrimp Feast, set for Thursday, has been moved to a paved area of the airport, and vendors have been asked to wait longer than they typically would to set up their tents. The delay is meant to give the soil a bit more time to dry, Twiford said.

Even the last-minute changes won’t derail all the planning that goes into the event, officials said. “Planning Peanut Fest is a year long process,” Earles said.

Two full-time Peanut Fest employees and more than 300 volunteers have worked throughout the course of the year to help with the event’s planning and organization, Twiford said. About 90 of these volunteers work four full-day shifts at the festival.

This kind of commitment and contribution is what sets Peanut Fest apart from other festivals, she added.

While the festival is a Suffolk tradition, the crowning of the Peanut Fest Queen is too. It dates back to the first Peanut Festival in 1941, Twiford said.

This year, Stasha Waterfield, a senior at Lakeland High School, has been crowned Peanut Fest Queen. She and her court will be fulfilling their royal duties by participating in the pumpkin-carving contest and acting as judges of the various food and vendor contests.

“It’s all good memories,” Twiford said of her past Peanut Fest experiences. When she was younger, she rented a wheelchair for her mother so they could go to the festival together and watch the fireworks, she said.

At this year’s festival, guests can enjoy karaoke, a petting zoo, face painting, cornhole and silent disco. There will also be performances by local musicians and dancers, as well as the chance for guests to prove their chalk art or wing-eating skills through some healthy competition.

The Suffolk Ruritan Club Shrimp Feast will be the first major event of the weekend, and will run from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. Along with food, participants can enjoy a musical performance by Celeste Kellogg. Tickets can be purchased for $30 in advance and $40 at the door.

The festival itself will be open from 2 to 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free, but parking is $15 per car or $25 for a four-day, weekend pass.