Jimmy Carter attends his hometown’s peanut festival as he nears his 99th birthday in hospice care

Former president Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter made a surprise appearance at a peanut festival on Saturday in his hometown of Plains, Georgia.

The pair were driven in the annual festival’s parade in a black SUV.

It is thought to be the first time that the former president has appeared in public since February, when he announced he was entering home hospice care, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“Can y’all see who is in this car?” one festival-goer posted on social media. “God Bless Former President Jimmy Carter and Former First Lady Carter for making the #plainspeanutfestival parade this year!!! Happy early birthday to him!”

Mr Carter turns 99 on 1 October.

“The Carters made the day for the thousands of attendees at the Plains Peanut Festival,” Jill Stuckey of the National Park Service’s Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains told the AJC.

“What a wonderful surprise for everyone.”

Prior to entering office, Mr Carter was a peanut farmer, as his father had been, in Plains.

Mr Carter’s family said that the former president has been doing well since entering hospice care seven months ago.

“We thought at the beginning of this process that it was going to be in five or so days,” his grandson, Jason Carter, told The New York Times this week.

“I was down there with him in the hospital and then said goodbye. And then we thought it was going to be in that week that it was coming to the end. And it’s just now been seven months.”

“He’s got so much joy in seeing his presidency and post-presidency revisited,” Paige Alexander, the chief executive of the Carter Center, also told The Times. “In many ways, that keeps him going — along with peanut butter ice cream.”

Mr Carter exited hospital care for hospice to spend more time with his 95-year-old wife. In May, the Carter family announced that Mrs Carter has dementia.

The couple still live in the same two-bedroom home they’ve lived in since 1961.