Right about this time of the year, I start looking forward to my favorite fall festival. Since I grew up in Whitesboro, it should surprise no one that I am talking about the Peanut Festival. This week, I learned that there will be no Peanut Festival this year. Though I completely understand the reasoning behind the decision, folks, this has completely flattened my sails.
There have been plenty of years that I didn’t go to the Peanut Festival and then there have been years when I put on my reporter hat and went home to cover it. But I can’t remember a year when there wasn’t a Peanut Festival.
The event generally draws a crowd of around 15,000 to a town with an annual population of just around 4,000.
This would have been the 55th annual festival in the town. I don't know how long they have been selling hamburgers at the festival, but I can tell you the ones I remember getting there in my youth were the best tasting burgers I have ever had. Those memories of the festival are some of my best memories of the place I call my hometown. I loved the parade and the way everyone seemed to know everyone even if they were't from town.
I remember as a middle school student watching the high school students on floats and in the band thinking I couldn't wait to be them someday. Then when I was in high school, I remember being impressed by the people who came back to town for the event after graduating from college and starting their adult lives. After I had done those things, my favorite stop at the event became the booth manned by the retired teachers from area because I was almost always able to find one of the people who taught me in school and get to catch up.
Catching up is a huge part of the Peanut Festival. People stand in the street and talk and trade phone numbers and social media information with folks they might not have laid eyes on since high school. Others hold family reunions on the day and get down to some serious photo swapping and memory making.
In recent years, the whole thing has gotten so big that they have had to move parts of it out of downtown, but there is nothing like standing there on the median on Main Street and watching the parade come down the street. It always felt like the entire town was there clapping and cheering for their favorite cub scout or church choir.
I don't have any plans, right now, for the third Saturday in October, but I know that when that day arrives, I will miss the opportunity to go home and stand on Main Street and just wait for so many old and dear friends to go walking by.