Williston crowns its new pint-sized Peanut King
Published: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 7:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 7:41 p.m.
That battle cry helped 7-year-old Luke Henderson wrest the title of Peanut King at last year's Williston Peanut Festival from about eight other young ruffians vying for the noble honor.
But as kings eventually learn, a leader's duty isn't as easy as it looks, particularly when it comes to stepping down and doing what's best for the county -- as Luke learned the hard way when he had to concede his crown at Saturday's Fall Harvest and Peanut Festival to a newcomer.
Drafts of sugar-crusted kettle corn, sizzling bratwurst and musky peanut dust wafted through the river of tents and kicked up tufts of fallen leaves as thousands of people crowded Williston's linear park for a day of food, entertainment, arts, crafts, a petting zoo and more.
Three new competitors wanted the crown of Peanut King, as well.
And who better to introduce the new king candidates than the past king himself.
Donning a pallid yellow dress shirt, boots and a Bible black cowboy hat encircled by his thorny crown, Luke walked 3-year-old crown challenger Wyatt Smith and his fellow 3-year-old competitors Lucas Gruenwald and Cody Haff onto the pavilion stage.
Contestant number one, Wyatt, walked out first and beamed at the crowd.
The contest announcer laid out the facts as Luke watched from the side: Wyatt loves to sing and dance. His favorite food is pizza. He loves the color blue and horses. And fire trucks are a personal favorite.
Cody and Lucas followed, both looking ready to belt out a string of promises but instead feigning silence and fidgeting with their hands as the announcer read their bios.
After each introduction, it was time for a decision.
Strings of multi-colored Christmas lights strung from the top of the pavilion hung in trepidation as the crowd waited for its new king.
Joining the newly chosen queen, Aolani Benjamin, 3, who trumped her opponent Lilla Snyder earlier in the afternoon, was Wyatt, the festival's new king.
Luke watched blankly as the new generation succeeded him.
He said he didn't feel good because he had to give up his crown, but he noted that his successors "were all really good."
Lucas, who was named runner-up, didn't seem at all phased by finishing second.
He squealed in excitement as he hefted his second-place trophy, its sheen illuminated in the sweltering sunshine. The heavy humidity also brought to life the beads of sweat hanging from his brow.
"Do you like my trophy?" Lucas asked, urging his parents to also check out the water gun he totted around with him.
For Lucas, this was his second year in the competition-- which is ultimately designed to "increase the self-esteem in the kids and boost their enthusiasm," according to Mary Kline, executive director of the Williston Chamber of Commerce.
Amanda Gruenwald, Lucas' mother, wholeheartedly agreed with Kline.
"It's nice that they're able to set this up and allow the kids to be confident," she said.
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