NEW BETHLEHEM — New Bethlehem’s annual Peanut Butter Festival got off to a strong start on Friday and Saturday, and is poised to cruise on home Sunday with a full day of events.
The festival opened Friday afternoon with the crowning of Redbank Valley High School senior Mackenzie Young as this year’s Peanut Butter Festival Queen. Clarion University sophomore Natalie Harmon was named the event’s runner-up. Young received a $2,000 scholarship provided by the local J.M. Smucker peanut butter factory, while Harmon received a $1,000 scholarship.
Friday night’s Wine Walk was well attended, and the festival grounds were busy for the numerous food vendors and crafters. Fireworks concluded the night in New Bethlehem’s Gumtown Park along Water Street.
On Saturday, the festival’s 5K and Mountain Bike races were held in the morning, along with a new event — the Hot Wing Eating Contest. Adam Rucinski, of New Bethlehem, claimed the $100 hot wing prize by eating a record 22 wings dripping with “Exit Wound” sauce created by local eatery, Zack’s.
Saturday’s parade was also a big hit as crowds lined Broad Street through the downtown business district. Saturday evening’s events included an inflatable carnival and performances by the Route 8 Band.
The festival concludes today with the Motorcycle Bike Cruise starting off at 10 a.m. from S&T Bank. Crafters and vendors will open at 11 a.m. in the park, while the New Bethlehem Fire Co. will host a chicken dinner at the park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Several local performers will take to the stage from noon to 1:30 p.m., and the inflatable carnival will continue on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
The main event of the day is the Knight Cruisers Car Cruise on Water Street from noon to 5 p.m. Registration is held at Redbank Chevrolet.
The final day’s events will also include a tractor show from noon to 4 p.m., performances by the NBC Barbershop Chorus at 2 p.m. and Jimmy Swogger and Friends at 3 p.m., and the duck race at 3:30 p.m.
The Redbank Valley Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the annual festival, will have a wide array of peanut butter and other items for sale in its tent at the park. The tent is stocked with the many varieties of peanut butter made at the local factory.
For more information, visit www.redbankchamber.com.