BY JANE BLOODWORTH ROWE
KNOTTS ISLAND, N.C. — It is festival time on the island, and members of the Knotts Island Ruritan Club are busy preparing for the return of the annual Peach Festival this coming weekend.
The festival, which began in 1987, was canceled in 2020 because of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. With Covid-19 restrictions loosening now, the festival, which helps charitable goals and community organizations on the island, is back on this year.
It runs from Friday, June 25, to Sunday, June 27, at Knotts Island Ruritan Park on the island located just south of rural Virginia Beach.
And it is returning with carnival rides, crafters, live music and – of course – fresh peaches and peach desserts, including peach shortcake and peach ice cream. The traditional barbecue and slaw – a local favorite – will also be sold.
A variety of sauces will be available for the barbecue, said Lee Waterfield, president of the Knotts Island Ruritan Club, so that both those who prefer the vinegar-based sauces or those who like the sweeter sauces can have their choice.
The festival will begin with a “Friday Night Ride” from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday, June 25, according to Eddie Yamiolkowski, a member of the Ruritan Club. The full weekend festival includes crafters and live music, and it takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 26, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, June 27.
About 60 local crafters and artists will display their creations, and some vendors will offer direct sales of Tupperware or other items, Yamiolkowski said. The artists will include Bob Langston, a Virginia Beach resident who draws humorous caricatures of his subjects.
The music will include country, rock, Southern rock and some pop, Waterfield said. Performers include The Mullins Sisters, Hotcakes and Hank Martin.
Proceeds from the festival are used to support local organizations and charitable efforts that help islanders, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the food pantry and the island’s two churches, Knotts Island United Methodist Church and Knotts Island Baptist Church.
Money is also donated to help fund field trips or other events for Knotts Island Elementary School students or, on occasion, to provide ramps and other support for disabled people and senior citizens.
These funds are particularly important this year, Waterfield said, because last year’s cancellation put a dent in the budget.
“We hope to raise $35,000 this year,” Waterfield said during an interview. “With Covid shutting everything down last year, it kind of hurt. We’re happy to be back this year, and we’re hoping for good weather and a good turn-out.”
Ticket prices are $8 for everyone over 12 at the gate or $6 if they’re purchased in advance online. Children 12 and under are admitted to the festival for free.
Parking, too, is free, and visitors should enter the parking area at 151 South End Road.
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