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Fest has successful Saturday

Stomach-dropping carnival rides, frigid and flavorful snow cones, sugary funnel cake and crispy, savory turkey legs were the order of the day on Saturday at the Suffolk Peanut Festival.

Families turned out to enjoy the midway, shop vendors and get their fill of the fall fair.

They enjoyed performances including a variety of local groups, as well as Jenny Tolman and Michael Ray on the main stage in the evening.

A sudden rain shower that started just before 4 p.m. left fairgoers damp but didn’t dampen the festive mood.

LaRhonda Outlaw brought her daughter and friends, Taylor Outlaw, Mya Carter and Courtney Washington, to the fair for the day. They all said their favorite thing was the food — turkey legs for LaRhonda, crabcake sandwich for Taylor, butterfly chips for Mya and fried Oreos for Courtney.

“I come out here every year to get one,” LaRhonda Outlaw said of the turkey legs.

Vester and Rita Collins brought their 2 ½-year-old grandson, Gavin Hunter, to the fair. He left with a paper hat from the Rad Hatter on his head, a lollipop in his mouth and a smile on his face.

They enjoyed the Ferris wheel on Saturday, Vester Collins said, but Gavin’s favorite thing was easily the demolition derby on Friday.

“It was both hands in the air the whole time they were going, from start to finish,” Collins said.

Brianna Gertis said she enjoyed her monster truck ride at the festival on Saturday.

“That was pretty fun,” she said.

The World’s Only Peanut Butter Sculpture Contest, always a fan favorite, took place at 2 p.m. Saturday. Peanut Princess Tatiyahna Blakely of Lakeland High School won first place in the contest with her nutty interpretation of Charlie Brown from the “Peanuts” cartoon.

She said the lovable, 20th-century character was Plan A for the contest, but there was a 21st-century backup plan.

“If it failed, it was just going to get turned into an emoji,” she said.

Festival publicity coordinator Theresa Earles said the event had a successful Saturday, with tens of thousands of people coming in throughout the day.

“We weren’t expecting any rain, but it did leave us with a really pretty rainbow afterwards,” Earles said. “It’s almost Peanut Fest tradition.”

After the Saturday and Sunday of last year’s event were canceled entirely by Hurricane Matthew, the festival appreciated the mostly dry event.

“Peanut Fest has worked really hard,” Earles said. “Especially after last year, it’s like a comeback. It’s really nice to see.”

Earles also said Peanut Fest is a great time for folks to get together and reconnect.

“You see people you know, and you only see them once a year at Peanut Fest,” she said.

The Peanut Fest was accompanied for the first time this year by the Virginia Regional Festival of Flight, which also took place on the same site at the Suffolk Executive Airport.

Visitors to the festival of flight got up-close looks at all kinds of aircraft, speak with their owners and pilots and attend talks about aviation history and technology. Youngsters also got to take free rides as part of the Young Eagles program.

“It’s really cool that they give the kids rides,” visitor Deborah Houston said.

Tiffany Dotti agreed that the flight festival was an excellent addition to the weekend.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “It is a great event that brings the community together.”