In Southeast Alabama, we celebrate peanuts in a big way. A part of Dothan’s agriculture since the 1910’s, this legume has a rich and fun backstory. From advancements in agriculture to a 10-day festival, there’s something for everybody that involves the peanut. Without further ado, here are five facts about peanuts and the Wiregrass you might not have known!
Peanuts were introduced to the region by H.M. Sessions.
Before peanuts, cotton was considered the primary crop of the region. In a recent article from the Dothan Eagle, after an abysmal 1914, “… a seed broker, H.M. Sessions, introduced the peanut to the Wiregrass after traveling to North Carolina and Virginia.” From there, it’s become the leading export of Dothan and the surrounding areas.
Alabama Produces Over Half the Nation’s Peanuts.
The title of “Peanut Capital of the World” doesn’t come without merit. Per the Encyclopedia of Alabama, over half of the peanuts grown in the United States are done so within a 100-mile radius of Dothan. In fact, current numbers suggest that roughly 65% of peanuts grown in the nation come from this area.
They have their own festival.
The National Peanut Festival is a yearly event, held in the fall, “…to honor local farmers and celebrate the harvest season.” The festival, which takes place over the span of 10 days, features concerts, agricultural events, a pageant, as well as a midway with rides and games. The first festival was a 3-day event held in 1938 and featured George Washington Carver as the guest speaker.
Jeffers participates in the National Peanut Festival with a booth in the ALFA Commercial Trade Building. Stop by and say hi this fall!
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver, a widely recognized name in agricultural advancement, developed multiple uses for the peanut during his time at Tuskegee University (then named Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute). In Dothan, Carver’s contributions to the community are celebrated by The Carver Museum.
If Hide-and-Seek was your preferred game as a child, then you’ll love this next entry. Throughout the city of Dothan, you’ll find big, fiberglass peanuts, dressed and decorated apropos to their site. What began as a community art project has quickly expanded into a fun scavenger hunt type activity and photo op for families and visitors. Each peanut is a whopping four feet tall and represents a business in the local community. Some peanuts are visible from the road (UPS), while others sit closer to the store with which they are associated (Sam’s Club). A map of peanuts around town can be found at the Visit Dothan Headquarters, along with the Golden Peanut and Elvis.
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