Closing fest was good choice

Published 2:36 pm Saturday, October 8, 2016

It seems like Peanut Fest can’t catch a break lately.

It seems like almost every year, the festival suffers from at least one day of rainfall. Thanks to Hurricane Matthew, which affected Hampton Roads with wind and rain this weekend before the storm took a U-turn, this year was no different.

It wasn’t an ideal Thursday at the festival, with rain on and off all day. But Friday’s weather was perfect, if a little gloomy and drizzly toward the end of the night.


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Thousands came out Friday to take advantage of the weather. The specter of the potential closure was on everybody’s minds, and the word that it might be closed for the rest of the weekend was spreading throughout the grounds, so everybody seemed determined to pack all of their festival fun into one day.

Fair officials had already made the decision to move the usual Saturday fireworks to Friday, which was an excellent logistical move, considering the crowds who came for the fan-favorite demolition derby and the high likelihood that Saturday’s weather would not have allowed for it.

Every time it rains during Peanut Fest, the perennial suggestion from armchair quarterbacks is that officials should move it to a different timeframe in future years. But unfortunately, weather does not operate on a calendar, and there’s no more guarantee that it won’t rain during another fall weekend than there is for the second weekend in October.

In the past, festival officials have made the best out of less-than-ideal weather. They carried on through rainstorms and put hay down to help keep fairgoers out of the muck. They added a mud bog event to capitalize on the wet ground. Their volunteers and staff have worked through unseasonably hot and unseasonably cool temperatures. The last time the festival closed for an entire day due to weather was 11 years ago.

But high winds are another matter. With predicted gusts around 40 miles per hour on Saturday afternoon and evening, no chances could be taken with large tents and tall rides.

The festival can still be fun, even if the weather’s not perfect. But when the weather’s downright unsafe, the fest can turn tragic at a moment’s notice.

As disappointing as it was, festival leaders made the right choice in canceling the last two days of this year’s event. We hope everyone will support the to-be-rescheduled events, including the Mud Bog and the Swamp Roar Motorcycle Ride. And we look forward to next year, with our fingers crossed for excellent weather.