Good goobers! It’s that time of year again.
The 39th annual Suffolk Peanut Festival is set for Thursday through Oct. 9 at the city’s Executive Airport, 1410 Airport Road.
This year’s theme is “Mud Slingin,’ Nut Crackin’ Good Time,” partly due to the addition of a Saturday afternoon Mud Jam. It features five classes and all sizes of trucks in a free-for-all of spinning tires, fish-tailing and high flying stunts in the arena area.
Festival organizers added the act after a Mud Jam in April drew a sizeable crowd, said Angie Twiford, assistant festival director. Entrants will compete in separate classes from street level to drag racing.
Overall, this year’s festival line-up seems to follow the winning formula of past years. Dreamland Amusements returns with its battery of arcades and thrill rides on the midway. Commercial and civic groups, food vendors and concessions will be set up throughout the festival site.
Action on the Budweiser Main Stage heats up on Saturday. Four-time Grammy nominee and the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist, Joe Nichols, will perform at 8:15 p.m. Opening act is Josh Phillips, a former college baseball player turned musician.
Sunday afternoon’s main stage attraction is the country, bluesy duo, Brothers Osborne. Opening act for the Brothers is Clark Manson, a guitarist since age 9 who will feature selections from his debut album “Runnin’ with the Night.”
A signature festival event is The World’s Only Peanut Butter Sculpting Contest. It’s always a favorite, especially since the Peanut Festival Queen and Court of Princesses are required to participate.
Last year, a plant fire at Producers Peanut, the company that makes the special peanut butter blend, caused organizers to substitute pumpkins in place of the beloved legumes. This year tradition prevails, Twiford said.
More hard-driving, bluesy sounds by national and local talent are on tap in the intimate club environment of the Peanut Lounge. Harvest Family Stage entertainment begins Friday with chorus, band and orchestral music from students at Suffolk Public Schools. Dance cloggers and karaoke competition are scheduled Saturday on the smaller stage, closing Sunday afternoon with a gospel showcase.
Another special Saturday event will be the Festival of Flight aviation show. The longstanding Suffolk air show will feature daylong fly-ins of vintage, experimental and light sports aircraft. Presented by the Virginia Aviation Council, the event is devoted to promoting general aviation and developing future aviators.
Children’s rides and activities, including animal petting areas, face painting and creative hat-making are also on tap. Individual competition includes a chalk art contest, cornhole, horseshoes and knockerball, a new addition of inflatable plastic barrels that people enter and roll around while attempting to knock each other over.
Opening Day offers a special Carload Day admission, where up to eight people in a car, van or truck can enter with all-day ride wrist bands for $40. Single entry admission is $10 and children 6 and under get in free. Four-day individual passes are $30 when purchased online.
Sunday, Oct. 9 is Military Appreciation Day. Active and retired military get half off the admission price with proper ID. Sunday is another wristband day with all-day ride passes for $30.
The annual festival pays tribute to the city’s agricultural heritage and devotion to the peanut. The festival opens to the public at 2 p.m. Thursday, just before the annual Shrimp Feast from 3 to 7 p.m. hosted by the Suffolk Ruritan Club.
Most festival-goers are from Hampton Roads and eastern North Carolina, but it’s not unusual to meet people from distant places throughout the East Coast. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 visitors attend the annual nutty event each year.