Williston will host its 33rd annual Central Florida Peanut Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Heritage Park.
The festival spans over a quarter mile, three whole city blocks, and features over 100 vendors selling clothing, jewelry, food and beverages, and many other things. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Williston Woman’s club originally founded the event to celebrate the peanut agriculture industry in the area, and two decades ago, passed it over to the chamber. Since then, the celebration has grown into an annual festival with over 8,000 visitors.
“It’s the sense of community,” said Carolyn Ten Broeck, the Williston Chamber of Commerce executive director, in a phone interview. “The fact that people can come and go as they please on a lovely sunny day is special. It’s just the things that you can see and do that you usually don’t get to do throughout the year. It really kicks off the festival season in Levy County.”
Butch Batts and the Southbound Band will perform and emcee the entire day in the main pavilion. In addition, the Mustang Cloggers will perform at 1:45 p.m.
The main stage will hold two pageants during the festival. The Mr. and Miss Baby Peanut is for children 6 and younger, and the other is for the King and Queen Peanut pageant.
“The pageants are a huge deal,” Ten Broeck said. “People in their 30s still talk about winning Baby Peanut in the 1990s.”
Drawings and giveaways will occur throughout the day.
The Williston Chamber of Commerce has a reverse cash drawing that gives away 300 tickets yearly for $10. The prize for the reverse cash drawing is $2,000 and tickets are still available.
This year’s event will feature a first-time boiled peanut contest in a pavilion at the park’s north end. There is a $50 entry fee. The winner will receive a cash prize and can sell their peanuts after the competition.
For visitors unfamiliar with the area, Ten Broeck suggests using the Williston City Hall address at 50 NW Main St. for directions. Heritage Park is located in front of the City Hall building.
Editor’s note: The date for the festival was changed from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15 due to Hurricane Ian.