A great weekend at the festival

Published 9:38 pm Monday, October 14, 2019

Suffolk Peanut Festival 2019 from Suffolk News-Herald on Vimeo.

By Jimmy LaRoue and Alex Perry

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Staff Writers

The Peanut Fest fun was going strong on Saturday, with families enjoying all the food, activities and delightfully sunny skies.

Ryan Mollette said he came out to the Suffolk Peanut Festival after his wife saw an ad for it on Facebook. Mollette, who is from Kentucky but stationed at Fort Eustis, said their 3-year-old daughter, Willow Mollette, was having a good time. She and her father had just finished riding the Merry-Go-Round.

He said they came out “for the rides, and the different attractions here like the Mud Bog and the monster truck rally.”

“It’s fun,” Ryan Mollette said. “We’re having a blast. She can’t stop laughing.”

Over at the Peanut Butter Sculpting Contest, Peanut Festival princesses were the primary participants, with Lakeland High School student Imani Boatner taking first place.

“I wanted to make a float for Peanut princesses, like how, when we were on the float,” Boatner said. “And so then I went online, and looked up the Peanut Factory because I was like, ‘Oh goodness, I don’t know what I’m doing.’ Everyone’s spouting out their ideas and I still haven’t solidified anything. And then I just stumbled across the picture of the Peanut Mobile, and I was like, let’s do that, but in float form.”

Contestants had 10 minutes to take a block of peanut butter and shape it into a sculpture, and then they were judged.

“As I was doing it, it was kind of scary because I realized, ‘Oh my goodness, this peanut butter is not very valuable,’” Boatner said. “Then, I just started cutting pieces off and working little by little, and then, you see here, I have three-fourths of it left over. I didn’t need much at all. I hope they don’t waste it. I was expecting to use way more, but then I realized, quality over quantity.”

Ally Tolson of King’s Fork High School finished in second place and Summer Mathis, who was drawn into the contest through a lottery, took third.

Boatner, who chatted with King’s Fork High School’s Victoria Heerah as the two were building their sculptures, said she has enjoyed this Peanut Festival experience.

“This is very fun,” Boatner said. “I’m loving the Peanut Fest this year. This competition, I thought I would come in and be like, panicking, and that would affect everything, but I was just calm and making my sculpture and joking with Victoria like it was any other event. It was so fun.”

Boatner, who said it never crossed her mind to be a princess before a friend was one last year, has been going to the Suffolk Peanut Festival since she moved to Suffolk 12 years ago and enjoys the experience.

“I love the sights, I love the people, the atmosphere is very open,” Boatner said. “I love the different competitions, the rides, the Ferris wheel — I love how it lights up at night. It’s just so pretty. And the food, of course. There’s so much food here. And once I finally tried it, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’”

Later in the afternoon, there were two hot wing eating contests, followed by entertainment from the Crazy X Band and Tony Jackson, along with fireworks.

On Sunday, the festival concluded with Military Appreciation Day, with discounted admission for military members, a motorcycle rally and more entertainment, with a Gospel Showcase, and entertainment from Chase Payne and Carly Pearce.

Nicole Mangune had a great view of the festivities, standing about 8 feet tall on stilts. Mangune was hired by Fun Aboard Entertainment and greeted everyone in her black-and-white outfit and sunglasses, smiling and leaning down to give children high-fives.

“It is wonderful weather out here,” Mangune said, standing tall and looking over the crowds. “There are tons of peanuts, people, so much fun. We have monster trucks going on. We’re having the greatest time ever.”

It was Jada Scali-Goulette’s first Peanut Fest, and her 2-year-old son Keith Goulette Jr. was mesmerized by the big red caboose, and the John Deere vehicles that he excitedly climbed all over.

“He’s into the John Deere,” Scali-Goulette said as Keith kept twisting the steering wheel from the driver’s seat. “We could just stay here all day.”

Her son was full of energy on Saturday, eager to take a closer look at each and every attraction that caught his eye.

“I’m glad we came, and the weather’s wonderful,” Scali-Goulette said.