This Saturday, the Patron Saint of Single Women, my buddy Larry, and I went to the Virginia Peanut Festival in the metropolis of Emporia, Virginia. Why do I give Larry Patron Saint status? After my last dating disaster Larry took me to lunch and reminded me that there was nothing wrong with me. And as if that wasn't enough, when I suggested we go to the random Peanut Festival, Larry didn't hesitate. Even when the temperature was pushing 100. See? Patron Saint.
In fact, I've found that the Peanut Festival is a great screener for dating. This weekend two match.com guys called me. When they asked what I had done this weekend, I told them both in an excited voice, "I went to the Virginia Peanut Festival!" One immediately went on to tell a long and boring story about some relatives he had who used to live in Emporia. He then proceeded to give me a lecture on vitamin intake. Told me that you pee most of the vitamins in supplements out. (As if I don't know this and who the hell cares? Did he think I was fascinated? That I was hoping he'd ask me out so I could hear more about urination?) I could have put the phone down and come back 10 minutes later. He wouldn't have missed me. I lied and said I had to go. When he asked if he could call back I said I was really, really busy. Forever.
When I told the second man, "I went to the Virginia Peanut Festival!" He said, "Why?" Clearly he is not the man for me. He's a computer guy. Another one. Raleigh is infested with them.
The man for me would either - laugh; say he was jealous; or ask what I had to eat at the festival. If he asked if I saw Mr. Peanut I would propose.
Let's get back to the festival.
Now I've been to the Blueberry Festival in Burgaw, NC where there was blueberry ice cream, blueberry muffins, blueberry bread, and lots and lots of blueberries. Silly me, I expected the same thing at the Peanut Festival. Instead it was just.......well, scary.
The opening parade was rolling by when we got there. There were a lot of Jesus floats - churches with signs about sin and abortion and murder and greed. I expected to catch on fire at any second. One group was handing out brochures that asked THE QUESTION.
I had no idea what THE QUESTION was. But Larry knew. THE QUESTION is "When I die, will I go to Heaven or TO HELL?" I'm pretty sure I'm going to Hell with all my other rowdy friends, so I don't worry too much about this. I really just wanted some peanuts. I'll get redemption some other time. Maybe
There was a car show (by the church):
At least this person involved the peanut:
There was a 1949 peanut picker and that brown mound of vegetation in front of the picker is peanut plants:
These were in front of the courthouse:
The was also a weird flea market/vendor area, a Civil War camp reenactment, (How boring to reenact camping), and a cheesy carnival like you see in the parking lot of Walmart. What was missing? PEANUTS!!!! No peanut foods. Funnel cakes and all that crap. Domino's pizza. I was sweating like I already was in Hell and there were no peanuts in sight. Bastards.
I say THE QUESTION is "Where the hell are the peanuts?"
I did get a bag of Planter's Peanuts throw off of one of the floats. And the Virginia Peanut Growers Association had a booth where I got some peanuts. Wow - I could barely carry this huge peanut haul! Good thing I dragged Larry all the way to Emporia, Virginia! Which I have to tell you, might be the armpit of the state. YIKES!
Now, this is WHY I went to the Virginia Peanut Festival. I sampled some Virginia Peanuts at the Fancy Food show and they rock! They are way bigger than Planters and taste so much better. The difference really is surprising. I had no idea what I'd been missing:
Planters on the left, Virginia's Finest on the right. It's really hard to describe the nuances of peanut flavor, but the Virgina peanuts are so much better. Less oily, more peanutty. If you like peanuts, I think you'll love these. I won't waste my time with Planter's anymore. Sorry Mr. Peanut, Virginia's Finest are WAY better.
Other than the Virginia Peanut Grower's Association (who seemed less than excited when I said we had come all the way from Raleigh and I loved Virginia peanuts!), there was one lone peanut booth. I mean there were rubber ducky races and a whole bunch of other crap - two stages with bands, a freakin' car show and the Civil War weirdness, but no peanut booths at the PEANUT festival. Go figure.
This was The Good Earth Peanut Company:
I bought some of their peanuts and tried to get them excited too. Told them about the blog! I'm not sure they have Internet access in Emporia. Or maybe they just didn't know what a blog was. Or maybe they were all just stunned by the heat. Or maybe they could tell I was the spawn of Satan from the Big City who didn't know what THE QUESTION really was.
Well, I turned to Larry after scarfing down a really good pumpkin cupcake from a vendor. (Home made and AMAZING! But not peanut!!) And said, "I have a back-up plan. Are you willing to drive another 30 miles?" The Patron Saint of Single Women was in. I'm kind of hard to resist when pumpkin muffin crumbs are sticking to my sweat.
Feridies Peanut Patch https://www.feridies.com/ is what got me started on Virginia peanuts. I had a speaking engagement in Suffolk, Virgina and on the way back, I saw it and just pulled in. (I live on the edge like that.) It's everything the peanut festival should have been. And it's just east of Hell - I mean Emporia.
Look at this great peanut box!
They have some great peanut flavors - I love the regular salted - I also got Hickory Smoked, chocolate covered peanut brittle and peanut brittle crunch. But they have loads of stuff - trail mix, other nuts, more peanut flavors (like Scorned Woman and Jamaician Jerk) and you can sample them all! They even have peanut candy! See those cuties?
The peanut patch even had peanut shaped erasers and a peanut Christmas ornament! Woohoo!! Peanut Heaven!
I thought I'd show you the Good Earth peanuts (on the left) and the Feridies peanuts (on the right):
The Good Earth peanuts are better than Planters, but not as good as Feridies. Feridies just have a cleaner taste. A bit less greasy, a bit less salty. And their overall peanut quality is better - larger and more well formed peanuts. Look, I've never thought about all this before, but someone had to have a Peanut Festival!
They even had peanut butter pound cake!
I'm glad I found it and tried it, but I was disappointed. Bland. A little dry. Needs more peanut butter!!
I love peanut brittle and this was a time when adding chocolate really worked:
Not all peanuts are created equal. Did you know? I sure didn't. I've grown up with Planters - they are everywhere. But they are actually lame. Just because something is readily available doesn't mean it's the best. The best takes a little more work to find.
It's not about the destination - it's about the journey. Larry and I had a great time - we melted, but we laughed a LOT. And he was a great sport. We had an adventure - you have to make those happen. It's too easy to beg off and just run errands or laze around the house. Emerson said we're always getting ready to live and never living.
Now you know what THE QUESTION is. But I still don't agree. I don't think THE QUESTION is "What will happen to you after you die?" I think THE QUESTION is "Will you really LIVE?"
Tomorrow wer're going to talk about peanut brittle without chocolate! Hey, we're on a roll here!!