We’re right in the midst of one of the prize jewels of the Southeast: the National Peanut Festival. As we play, parade, and munch on peanuts, let’s take a look back at what made this festival what it is today. Roots run deep through Dothan, Alabama; here’s some of the history of the National Peanut Festival!
George Washington Carver attended the first National Peanut Festival.
The grandfather of over 300+ uses for peanuts not only attended the first National Peanut Festival: he was featured as the guest speaker. Carver’s vision and penchant for innovation led the Wiregrass Region to prosperity—through peanuts!
The Festival’s pageant wasn’t always what it is today.
During the pageant’s first years, pageant winners weren’t chosen how they are today. Contestants were sponsored by local businesses and the City of Dothan chose the winner based on who sold the most tickets to the Festival.
World War II impacted the Festival’s annual celebration.
The history of the National Peanut Festival stalled during the World War II years. It was not held during the war—and was revived in 1947 by the Jaycee family and the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Festival grew during the post-war years.
The festival boomed during the early 1950s. By 1953, promoters and organizers introduced a carnival into the festival, to help better finance the event.
It became so big that it had to move.
The National Peanut Festival outgrew its space as more and more people flocked to it with each passing year. The Festival moved to the Houston County Farm Center in 1959.
1972 served as a landmark year for the Festival.
In that year, Sue Byrd became President of the Festival. She was the first woman to do so. Originally a regular patron, Byrd wowed the Festival Board with her innovative ideas—which helped to land her the role of president.
The Houston County Farm Center couldn’t continue to hold the Festival.
As years passed, the Festival continued to swell in popularity. So much so that, in 1993, the Festival bought 150 acres on U.S. Highway 231 South in Dothan. In 1999, the move was made official. The Festival is still held there to this day.
The Festival’s grounds plays host to six other major events in the region.
Other events, including music festivals and state rallies, are held at U.S. Highway 231 South. In fact, six other events call the space home—and the space boasts the largest trade shows for peanuts and cotton in the region.
You’ll be greeted by a very large peanut upon entering the Festival.
In 2015, the National Peanut Festival installed a 24-foot peanut at the Highway 231 sign. That’s a whole lot of peanut!
The National Peanut Festival lives up to its name.
The Festival is definitely national—it’s the largest peanut festival in the nation! The 10-day festival attracts north of 163,000 people from around the globe and has more than 500 individuals serving as volunteers each year.
Dothan, Alabama boasts a number of events and traditions year-round. We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the history of the National Peanut Festival—and warmly encourage you to attend if you haven’t already!
Dothan is also a great place to live. If you’re moving to the area, or just want a new change of scenery, you need to have Meadow Ridge Apartments on your radar. We offer all kinds of amenities and floor plans for our residents, which you can find on our website!
Enjoyed this brief historical lesson? Want to know more about Dothan and the surrounding areas? Return to our blog from time to time! We’re a great resource for everything Dothan and South Alabama!