Peanuts Become Art
A nutty public art project in southeast Alabama depicts the area’s agricultural claim to fame.
by Emily D. Wood
If you visit Dothan, Alabama, you might notice a few fun characters standing about 4 feet tall along the side of the road. Actually, you could see around 67 of them around the city if you keep an eye out. These colorful characters are part of a public art project by The Downtown Group of Dothan, and each one is a peanut. After all, Dothan proclaims to be the “Peanut Capital of the World,” with approximately half of the peanuts in the United States grown within a 100-mile radius.
Painted by area artists, Dothan’s “Peanuts Around Town” represent either local businesses or personalities. They were first cracked in 2001 when The Downtown Group started a project called “Peanuts on Parade.” The peanut statues were purchased and created the following year, and they were so popular that the group decided to keep selling them. Today, the peanuts are scattered throughout Dothan’s Wiregrass area, and more are in the works.
Peanuts on Parade have been featured in “The Big American Art Book” as the premier Alabama Public Art Project and have quickly become a major tourist draw in Dothan. Peanuts occasionally need to be taken down and touched up, so they are sometimes absent from their posts, but there are plenty of nuts to see on any given day in Dothan. Here’s a guide to a few of the city’s peanuts that should help jumpstart your driving tour:
This hunk of burning love greets tourists at the Dothan Visitors Center. Employees there say he cost about $2,500, a fitting price tag for “The King.”
The Peanut Man
Byron “Cotton” Trawick was Dothan’s main “peanut man” for over 25 years. He sold his boiled peanuts from a stand in the very spot where this peanut statue has been placed in his memory on the corner of Ross Clark Circle and West Main Street. Trawick often told his patrons, “Have a good day and let the Lord ride with ya,” which is printed on the barrel of his statue.
This peanut was donated by the Downtown Investment Group’s Ignacio and Kelly Handal. Always a Southern gentleman, he holds the sign that directs traffic to downtown Dothan’s shops and restaurants from the corner of Main and Foster streets. Downtown Peanut is also the first peanut to ever be placed on public property. Local artist, John Wayne, donated his time and skill to create him, and local businesses chipped in to add their signs.
The Paper Boy
Sponsored by Dothan’s local newspaper, The Dothan Eagle, this nut peddles his papers across the street from the newspaper’s main office in downtown Dothan. He is the work of artist Wes Hardin.
State Trooper Peanut
Just down the road from Troy University’s Dothan Campus on Montgomery Highway, also known as Alabama Hwy. 231, you’ll find the local Alabama State Trooper Department. This honorary State Trooper nut stands tall as he guards the entrance.
Armed Forces Peanuts
Dothan is only a few miles away from Fort Rucker’s military base, so it’s only fitting that these guys stand proud in representation of our nation’s armed forces. They can be found outside of Tuffy Auto Service on Ross Clark Circle.
Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer Nut
Pretty in pink, this statue is sponsored by The Downtown Group and represents the call to fight against breast cancer. It’s located just outside the Dothan Civic Center.
Ready and waiting to save the day, Captain Cash is sponsored by Southland Bank. The theatrical design of this guy is the handiwork of artist Tim Walker.
Meet “Sheriff Sam.” He’s the sheriff in town, or at least patrols the area in front of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Artist Wes Hardin provided the skills that created this unique law enforcer, placed in honor of Sam C. Searcy.
Nuts About Safety
Sponsored by the Dothan Fire Department for 100 years of service, artist Wes Hardin’s Dalmatian and fire hydrant duo greet everyone visiting the Dothan Fire Department downtown.
This sneak peek of “Peanuts Around Town” is just a small sample of what the public art project has to offer. If you’re ever passing through Dothan, be sure to keep an eye out for some of these roadside characters. And if you’re in town in November, you’ll want to attend the annual Peanut Festival.
Photo credits: Top photo courtesy of The Downtown Group; other photos by Emily D. Wood.
Intern Emily D. Wood is currently a senior English major at Troy University’s Dothan Campus. Find out more about her in our Contributors section.