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Peanuts in the Air

Dothan, Alabama, kicks off its annual Peanut Festival today.
by Vanessa K. Eccles

It is beginning to smell a lot like fall in South Alabama. Driving down any country road will result in the wonderful fragrance of peanuts. The start of cool weather, the dusty fields and the late night hours of a peanut factory reminds all of us locals that the National Peanut Festival is on its way.

Our stomachs rumble with thoughts of the Corn Dog Man, roasted corn, elephant ears and peanuts, of course. Not to mention the memory of seeing Neanderthal-looking men walk around with giant turkey legs in their mouths. It is not uncommon for people to show up at the Peanut Festival just to eat.

In addition to great food, exhibits include photography, crafts, plants, food preservation and commercial booths. The livestock exhibits are always a favorite with the kiddos. There are prizes given to winners of all contests. The ever-so-desirous ribbon keeps contestants submitting every year.

Who could forget the rides? From the Ferris Wheel to the swings, there is something for every stage of daredevil. The giant wheel can be seen miles away. It lights up the sky, reminding every heart of its desire to ride.

What would a Southern festival be without a queen? This year Courtney Larkin, Miss Marianna, was crowned as Miss National Peanut Festival. Contestants prepare months for this event; lots of hard-work and thought goes into the pageant every year.

The National Peanut Festival made its appearance in 1938. The guest speaker of the event was none other than George Washington Carver (the developer of over 300 products of the peanut). The festival started and continues to be a giant celebration of the important role that peanuts play in southeast Alabama. Dothan is known as the “peanut capital of the world,” as it produces more than half of all peanuts produced in the United States. Driving down the circle in Dothan, Alabama, everywhere you turn, you’ll see a peanut statue in front of a business. The appreciation of the peanut does not just get recognized during this season, it’s a year long thing here.

Join us this year, along with over 165,000 people who come every year to experience everything the National Peanut Festival has to offer. There are three things that you need to know before coming:

1. Come hungry.
2. Ride the carnival rides before you eat.
3. Wear walking shoes.

The National Peanut Festival begins today, October 29, and continues until November 7 at the Dothan Alabama Fairgrounds. For additional information on specials, times and events visit their website at www.nationalpeanutfestival.com.

Vanessa K. Eccles is currently an English major at Troy University in Dothan, Alabama, as well as a Deep South intern. She completed her first novel last year and is working on her second.

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