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Crowd goes nuts over Brooklet's Peanut Festival

    Visitors found some unusual things Saturday as they browsed among several vendors booths at the Brooklet Peanut Festival. Peanuts were found everywhere in various forms and flavors, but there was a great deal more to sample and see as vendors hawked their wares.
    Some dipped their hands into colored wax, then plunged them into vats of ice water, thus creating a unique conversation piece - a wax hand.  Others built their own custom-designed teddy bears. There was even a booth featuring designer clothing - for your dog.
    Jewelry, Native American flutes, wooden signs and benches, live plants, metal artwork, tee shirts, tantalizing scented candles and bath and body products vied for space with food vendors selling corn on the cob, ribbon fries, funnel cakes, ice cream, barbecue, Italian ices, smoothies, and all sorts of delights.
    But the scent of boiling peanuts dominated the breeze and everywhere one looked, someone was munching on the salty treats.
    Peanuts are the main reason the Bastanzi family traveled from Claxton, said Rita Bastanzi. "The peanuts, but we really came to see everything. They offer great little booths out here and we get to see people we don't see all the time."
    Her grandson took a moment to visit the Marine and Army booths, and suddenly the air was filled with deep-voiced "HOO RAHs" as Danny Bastanzi, 14, performed 20 chin-ups and received a tee shirt in return. The Marine shirt read "Pain is weakness leaving the body."
    The Georgia Peanut Commission had a booth and offered visitors samples of deep fried peanuts. Kids were entertained with delights such as a moonwalk and climbing games.
    "We came for the arts and crafts," said Tracy Nickles of Statesboro. "We come every year." When asked what the most attractive part of the festival was, she jokingly motioned towards the military booths and said "The Navy guys."
    She wasn't the only one enjoying the scenery. John Haggard came all the way from Douglas with friend Bill Harcow, who lives in Reidsville, and said they decided to check t he event out after seeing it on TV.
    Haggard, making his way through a bag of boiled peanuts, said he enjoyed the food, the arts and crafts booths and the parade, but added "Don't forget the girl watching. We do a lot of that out here."
    Harcow said it was his first time visiting Brooklet and he was glad he made the trip. "I'm having a ball," he said.
    Vendors had a good time as well. Nan Wilson, with the Brooklet United Methodist Women, smiled as she waved gnats and the heat away with a practiced hand. "It's wonderful here," she said. She likes having the festival  in her home town because "you don't have to go so far away to enjoy the events."
    The day began with the Peanut Run, followed by a parade at 10 a.m., then live entertainment throughout the day as people ate, bought arts and crafts, socialized and just enjoyed the day.
    A "Slow Tractor" race was a big draw, with owners of antique farm tractors displaying their restored machines and seeing who could go the slowest without choking down and shutting off.
    Children got into the act as well, participating in a Kiddie Pedal tractor Race. The day's events culminated in a street dance with music performed by The Variations.

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