Ruritans’ fun feast with friends

Published 11:43 pm Thursday, October 10, 2019

Long rows of tables were filled with people at the Suffolk Peanut Fest on Thursday, and each person’s plate was just as stacked, with barbecue, shrimp, rolls, coleslaw and cocktail and hot sauces.

Suffolk Ruritan Club members cooked 2,000 pounds of shrimp to go with about 900 pounds of barbecue for their annual Shrimp Feast, according to event chairman Jimmy Franks, and tickets for the drinks, entertainment and all-you-can-eat menu sold out at 2,500 total.

Ruritans brought out boxes of fresh seafood from the truck and shouted for more coleslaw and barbecue. They needed to keep their tables stocked as long lines of patrons came and went. The smell of barbecue was strong and succulent, and servings of the delicious meat went fast.

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They were assisted at the event by numerous volunteers, including the Boy Scout Troop 1 from Main Street United Methodist Church, and the Lakeland High School field hockey team.

Dozens of volunteers quickly served many more, and patrons enjoyed each and every bite, like always.

“The shrimp is always seasoned perfectly,” said Tammy Nunes, who stood beside her husband Randy Nunes at one of the tables, both of them enjoying the Ruritans’ cooking.

“And the barbecue is always on point,” Randy Nunes added. This year marked roughly eight years that they’ve come out to the Shrimp Feast.

Ticketholders also enjoyed plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as The Embers beach music band played on stage. Friends enjoyed the sunny, Thursday afternoon weather with music, conversation and raucous laughter.

The Shrimp Feast brings together many that haven’t seen one another in years for a good time at the start of Peanut Fest.

“I do get to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen for some time,” said Buddy Jernigan, who has been coming to the Shrimp Feast off-and-on for roughly 19 years.

Jernigan ran into Darrell and Sherry Nelson, the very same people he hadn’t seen for some time. The Nelsons have been Shrimp Feast attendees for about 15 years, by their estimate.

Sherry’s favorite part is the shrimp, but the people help make it a great start to Peanut Fest.

“It’s just real nice,” Darrell Nelson said. “It’s a good time to relax.”

All of the proceeds from the Ruritan Club’s annual Shrimp Feast go back into the Suffolk community.

The Ruritan Club supports local organizations like the Boy Scouts, Boys & Girls Club of Suffolk, Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk, Suffolk Humane Society and other charities and scholarship programs that help Suffolk citizens.

After 41 years of doing the Shrimp Feast, Franks said that the Ruritan Club has given nearly $3 million back to the Suffolk community.

“The Shrimp Feast is an event we put on every year to make money to give back to the community, and we’ve probably put around $70,000 (annually) back into the community,” Franks said.