At 3 a.m. Aug. 23, Jared Jester and Robbie Cahill will start boiling peanuts for the Bluffton Boiled Peanut Festival. They have to start early to have enough time to cook all 20 bushels -- about 600 pounds -- of peanuts before the festival begins at noon.
Jester started the festival three years ago and held it during the Bluffton Farmers Market. Now the festival has a full day of its own at the Promenade in Old Town Bluffton, with more than 20 vendors, a boiled peanut eating contest and a Lil' Goober and Lil' Miss Peanut Contest, in which children compete for the best boiled peanut-inspired costumes.
Vendors and festivalgoers can also submit their own boiled peanut recipes. Prizes will be given for the Overall Best Boiled Peanut recipe, the Most Creative, and the Most Traditional Boiled Peanut dishes. Local groups Georgia Mountain String Company and Waits & Company will provide entertainment.
The Bluffton Chamber of Commerce will offer a $5 refillable cup of Cahill's traditional boiled peanuts, said John Burton, director of membership development for chamber. The chamber took over administrative and organizational duties for the festival this year, adding more vendors and sponsors.
"It's been a lot of work," Burton said. "I'm ready for the event. Everybody can get together and enjoy the day and enjoy the festival and enjoy the peanuts."
Along with a variety of goober peas, vendors will have peanut-inspired fare. Moon Mi Pizza will have a peanut pizza and Palm Key Catering will have peanut hummus for sale.
"It will be hummus with peanuts instead of chickpeas," said Brent Toole of Palm Key. Toole said the catering company often gets asked to serve boiled peanuts at events, especially in the Lowcountry.
"We brine ours in advance, and I add chicken broth to the cooking water to give the peanuts more flavor," he said. "I usually serve them cold, but I'll serve them hot at festival, because that's generally what people prefer."
The piece de resistance of the festival will arguably be the Bluffton-made World's Largest Boiled Peanut on display. The 800-pound plywood and foam groundnut was recently featured the A&E show "Shipping Wars."
The nut sustained some damage while on the show, but it wasn't significant, said Jester, who was one of the builders.
"We let it be as a war wound and as a testament to it being on national television," he said, adding that the peanut's TV appearance has given the festival increased notoriety.
"I've been getting lots of calls and emails about the peanut and the festival," he said. "It's cool that so many people support it."
Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.
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