Published 9:58 pm Thursday, October 4, 2018
The line for shrimp backed up to the fence as soon as the Suffolk Ruritan Club starting serving food at its annual Shrimp Feast at the Peanut Festival Thursday afternoon.
The annual all-you-can-eat event was full of patrons that were enjoying themselves before the food was even ready. For quite a few, the Shrimp Feast is a chance to catch up with old friends and mingle with the community.
“It’s a good community event,” said Deep Creek resident Karen England. “We like to come to socialize and see the history of Suffolk. It’s just a nice time.”
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England and her husband, Rusty, aren’t from Suffolk, but they think that the event is for the entire Tidewater area.
“It’s a real Hampton Roads atmosphere from the music to the people. It’s really everything,” Rusty said.
For some, this event is a time when everyone knows they can get together.
“It’s a reunion, and everyone marks it on their calendars to come,” said Suffolk resident Roy Johnson.
It took some time for the line for shrimp and barbecue to thin out, but once it did, the line to get a second helping was starting to grow.
People were happy to keep eating until their stomachs couldn’t handle it anymore, but most people couldn’t quite guess what they used to cook the shrimp.
The Ruritan Club is adamant about keeping its special blend of seasoning a secret, but most people guessed Old Bay seasoning, garlic or paprika as some of the special ingredients.
Despite quite a large crowd, the Ruritan Club was a well-oiled machine, but that was due to a large amount of behind-the-scenes prep that happened well in advance.
“My Ruritan friends and the folks that worked with us worked very hard to put all of this together,” said Roger Fawcett. “This took weeks of prep work, and everyone was dedicated to getting the shrimp cooked. I’m glad I’m a part of this and that I could contribute.”
The entire event, from the food to the music provided by Gator Head Band, was put together to help raise money for the multiple programs the club uses to help those in need throughout Suffolk.
“This is money well spent, and it all goes back to Suffolk for scholarships and other organizations,” Fawcett said.
“This is good for the community, because what we make, we give back,” said Ruritan Club member Eric Clary.
The event was quite the kick-off for the four-day-long Suffolk Peanut Festival, and it got most everybody excited for the rest of the weekend.
“The festival is really great with all the people and the music. It’s just really something to do,” said Smithfield resident Jason Holmes.
Some people were already enjoying the festival with their children as they tried every single amusement park ride, and some were coming back for the first time in a long time.
“It has been 22 years. I haven’t been since my husband died,” said Suffolk resident Sherri Lilley. “I’m here to enjoy a good time with my family and my grandkids. It’s nice seeing all the people and enjoying all the food.”
The Peanut Festival is being held at the Suffolk Executive Airport, 1200 Gene Bolton Drive, and will be open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The festival’s last day will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.