Shining Peanut Fest Queen crowned

Published 10:44 pm Friday, October 4, 2019

Suffolk Christian Academy senior Cassidy Hayes was crowned the 2019 Suffolk Peanut Fest Queen Thursday evening at the Queen’s Banquet, which was held at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront Hotel on East Constance Road.

Cassidy, 17, and the rest of the Queen’s Court shined brightly Thursday evening, and Cassidy herself was graciously humbled by the honor of being this year’s Peanut Fest Queen.

“It’s kind of surreal,” she said after she was crowned. “I didn’t think this was going to happen to me, but it’s definitely an honor to represent Suffolk.”

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The court for the 42nd annual Suffolk Peanut Fest this October consisted of 10 Suffolk high school seniors, with two from each Suffolk high school.

The outstanding young women of this year’s Peanut Fest Court are Victoria Heerah and Ally Tolson of King’s Fork High School, Imani Boatner and Khalema Salome of Lakeland High School, Carly Bennett and Amanda Davis of Nansemond River High School, Miranda May and Foram Nanavaty of Nansemond Suffolk Academy, and Margaret Anne Copeland and Cassidy Hayes of Suffolk Christian Academy.

The title of Peanut Fest Queen is awarded annually based on the young ladies’ activities, awards, achievements, volunteerism and community involvement.

Each senior also writes a personal essay based on the Peanut Fest theme, and are evaluated on their poise, personality and presentation on-stage at the Queen’s Banquet, including their responses to interview questions.

“Having met all 10 of these young ladies and learning so much about them through their applications and essays, I can personally attest to the fact that the decision on who to crown tonight will not be an easy one,” said Dr. Brittney Drames, 2019 Peanut Fest Queen and Court coordinator. “They are all outstanding and the brightest representation of our city possible.”

Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson also praised this stunning Peanut Fest Court in her remarks.

“Each one of you is here today as a result of your commitment to academic excellence and leadership in your respective schools and communities,” Johnson said, “and each one of you deserves — first of all, each one of you deserves to win, I wish we could have 10 crowns — but you deserve our recognition for your many accomplishments, and we extend our best wishes to each of you on your future endeavors.”

At Suffolk Christian Academy, Cassidy is on the cheerleading and tennis teams and is involved in student government. She has also been on five mission trips to Haiti with the group Supply and Multiply, and is active with Operation Suffolk and the Peanut Fest Goober Gang.

For her interview question, Cassidy was asked what her definition of success was, and her response on-stage demonstrated her drive to do her best.

“My definition of success has nothing to do with fame or money,” she said to the many banquet attendees Thursday evening, “but I think success is really achieving the goal that you aim for, no matter how big or little it is. I think it’s just doing the best of your ability.”

Each of the young ladies’ essays this year reflected the theme of Peanut Fest 2019: “Let the sun shine, it’s Peanut Fest time.”

Cassidy’s essay was a stroll down memory lane, back to her first Peanut Fest when she was just 11 years old. She remembered that it was a cloudy, gloomy day in Suffolk. At first, she wasn’t excited to go to Peanut Fest that gloomy day — but everything changed quickly when she arrived.

“As I was greeted by the Goober Gang, I immediately felt welcomed and part of a larger community,” she said as she read her essay aloud, as a proud member of the Goober Gang herself.

She spent her first day of Peanut Fest on the rides with her friend, eating all the tasty festival treats and “laughing and smiling at the fun surrounding us,” she said.

“I can tell you it was like the sun breaking through the clouds. I couldn’t help but let the joyous spirit inside me burst into smiles and laughter,” she said.

She compared the Suffolk Peanut Festival to that hit song by The Temptations — as sunshine on a cloudy day, or a cloudless day, because “no matter the sky, it sparkles with cheer, warmth and happiness.”

“As Suffolk Peanut Fest Queen, I would be honored to represent those annual qualities of sunshine that Peanut Fest embodies,” she read from her essay aloud. “The strong sense of Suffolk community, the positive symbol that Mr. Peanut represents for people all over the world, and the lighthearted joy that Peanut Fest delivers to people all throughout Hampton Roads.

“So without further ado, let the sun shine, it’s Peanut Fest time.”