National Peanut Festival

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Peanut Festival, National

The National Peanut Festival is a nine-day festival in Dothan, Ala., honoring the peanut, a multimillion-dollar crop in Alabama. A highlight is the Goober Parade, for which the streets are paved with peanuts by a giant cement mixer that moves along the line of march throwing out a ton of peanuts, while parade watchers scramble for them. It is said the parade attracts as many as 200,000 spectators. Other events include the selection of Peanut Farmer of the Year, a cooking contest of peanut dishes, crafts exhibits, fireworks, a beauty pageant, and live entertainment.
The festival began in 1938, was discontinued during World War II, and resumed in 1947. Revenues from the festival help the economy not only of Dothan but of neighboring areas of Florida and Georgia. Plains, Ga., the home of peanut farmer and former President Jimmy Carter, is just over the state border.
The peanut and its potential became nationally if not internationally known because of the work of George Washington Carver, who in 1896 became head of agricultural research at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala. His research program ultimately developed 300 derivative products from peanuts, including cheese, flour, inks, dyes, soap, and cosmetics. The research was crucial to the South's economy; the peanut crop freed farmers of their dependence on cotton, which depleted the soil and could be wiped out by boll weevils. When Carver arrived in Tuskegee, the peanut was not recognized as a crop; within the next 50 years, it became the South's second largest cash crop after cotton. Carver was the guest of honor at the first Peanut Festival in 1938.
National Peanut Festival Association Inc.
5622 Hwy. 231 S.
Dothan, AL 36301
334-793-4323; fax: 334-793-3247
GdUSFest-1984, p. 4
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