Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

C Shopper Columns



CITY OF SUFFOLK - SUFFOLK PEANUT FEST




As the summer heat begins to relinquish its hold on the region and the fall approaches, one's thoughts might drift towards Halloween, Thanksgiving, bonfires, and other seasonal family activities. However, here in Suffolk, the collective conscious tends to shift its focus towards Suffolk Peanut Fest - a community tradition that celebrates the city's agricultural heritage and long history in cultivating peanuts. After a one-year hiatus, this year's installment, entitled "Music, Mullets, and Motorsports "" A Totally 80's Vibe!" will be held at Suffolk's Municipal Airport, beginning on Friday, October 8, running through Sunday, October 10.



The first Suffolk festival celebrating the community's appreciation of the peanut can be traced back to January 1941. Despite the winter cold, some 10,000 people showed up for the very first event. When the event was again held the following October, it attracted 50,000 people. Thereafter, the festival became an annual event, happening on the second weekend of every October. 

Called "Harvest Fest" until 1978 and presented by the local Chamber of Commerce, it featured parades, a hot-air balloon event, carnival, dances, concerts, and a festival queen. The festival was a downtown tradition until 1981, when the event moved to the Suffolk Municipal Airport, three and a half miles south of its original location. Since the move, Suffolk Peanut Fest has brought in roughly 75,000 people annually and has achieved national recognition.

However, despite the size and success of this event, Suffolk Peanut Fest only has two devoted part-time employees. According to Chairwoman and Suffolk Tourism Manager Theresa Earles, the rest of the event is "planned and produced by a dedicated group of volunteers. Some of the current volunteers have been involved with the festival for the past 43 years."

The tens of thousands 
of residents 
who look forward 
to the annual Peanut Fest 
have many of their neighbors to thank 
for making it all possible

This means that the tens of thousands of residents who look forward to the annual Peanut Fest have many of their neighbors to thank for making it all possible. Because many volunteers come and go annually, this is the time of year when anyone interested in helping with this year's festival should get involved. 

"Volunteers help with a multitude of tasks," Theresa explains, "including site maintenance, special events, hospitality, entertainment, stage management, and decorating. Even though the volunteer Executive Committee meets year-round, many volunteers only work the week of the event. Many opportunities are available."

In addition to the volunteer staff who plan the festival from the ground up, a vast amount of funding goes into paying for the rides, live entertainment, and the huge number of supplies needed to make sure Suffolk Peanut Fest is as fun and safe as possible. While the festival does have supporting sponsors, it is important to note that several sponsorship levels are still available and that all community support is needed and appreciated.




Anyone interested in volunteering or providing sponsorships is encouraged to call the Festival Office at 
757-539-6751.
For more information on the concerts and events scheduled 
for this year's festival, visit 
www.suffolkpeanutfest.com.