For the last 2 weeks, Dothan has been thinking of little else than PEANUTS. 

Dothan is a city located in the southeastern corner of Alabama, situated approximately 20 miles  west of the Georgia state line and 18 miles  north of Florida.     Its name derives from Genesis 37:17: “let us go to Dothan.” According to 2007 Census Bureau estimates, the city’s population was 65,447, making it the largest town in this part of the state, and the combined population for the entire Dothan metropolitan area was 137,916.  The city serves as the main transportation and commercial hub for a significant part of southeastern Alabama, southwest Georgia, and nearby portions of the Florida Panhandle.

 Since more than  one-fourth of the U.S. peanut crop is produced within a 100 mile radius, with much of it being processed in the city, Dothan calls itself “The Peanut Capital of the World.”   And, so,The National Peanut Festival (NPF) — the nation’s largest peanut festival — is held each fall to honor peanut growers and to celebrate the harvest season.


The National Peanut Festival  is the United States ‘ largest peanut festival.  The festivities include games and amusement rides on a large midway, animal acts, agricultural displays, an outdoor amphitheater with live music concerts by national recording artists, beauty pageants, arts and crafts displays, contests, food and a two-hour parade. The National Peanut festival also sponsors and holds field crop exhibits with prizes awarded to each exhibitor.The 9 day celebration of the peanut harvest attracts more than 120,000 people, and has a history of 56 years.

The peanut festival also has other competitions, including  Sewing , Cake Decorating,  Photography, Cooking ,Art.

Rides and lights seem embedded into the night sky. The sounds of joyful shrieks slice through the air as the ferris wheel comes to a stop. You feel like you can see the whole world. The world is no longer dark. It is brilliant and exciting, and you are at the very top of it all. The ferris wheel comes down, and you are in the thick of a jungle of carnival exhibits, games, and more. Time itself whirls around you as though this energy will last forever though it is for just a moment.

 And to top it all off, on Saturday, the big parade through downtown Dothan.  Each community has its own float, and another for the queens from there, as well as businesses.  Then there are the bands, and the peanut growers, and the military vehicles.  The favorite for my children was always the big monster / tractor like truck that would come through the streets and drop thousands and thousands of parched peanuts in the street.  Everyone runs to fill a bag or a cup and munches on them as the rest of the parade passes by. 


  This event is a ‘given’ in our area.  So many county schools prepare all year to show their cattle or pigs or sheep.  The bands practice, playing and marching, to show off for the crowd as they march in front of their community’s floats.  Such fun…such mayhem…such tradition.  The coming of ‘the fair’ is our signal that the holiday season has started…….we’ve just added one more celebration!
I don’t think my Mom ever was too big a fan of the parades.  I don’t remember going too much as a child.  I must have gone some, because I have some memories of us sitting on the curb together.  And, I remember that there was always a friendly rival between the Dothan High School Band  and the Carver High School Band.  That was before the two schools were joined to make 1 high school.  After I married, and had small children, we always went with my sweet MIL, Elizabeth.  She loved parades, and she loved to have all the children there with her.  Sweet memories.
And, it’s over…for another year…the queens have little to do until they crown their successors next summer.  The recipes that won the recipe contest, have been printed in the newspaper and cooks all over the area have already tried them. 
The youngsters that caught a pig in the peanut-oil greased pig contest have taken their little piggies home to fatten them and bring them back next year for judging.  The World’s Best Corndog man has packed his little cooking wagon and moved it to the next event.  And, the carnival rides have been loaded and moved to the next town…to delight children …of all ages…there as they did here.
Information gleaned from National Peanut Festival Website, Wikipedia, and FB Page.
Pictures by Adam and Ian Owens