The National Peanut Festival, the nation's largest peanut festival, is held in Dothan, Alabama each fall to honor local peanut farmers and to celebrate the harvest season. Located in the southeast corner of Alabama, Dothan is known as the "Peanut Capital of the World" and is a prime location for growing peanuts. In fact, if you're in Dothan you're in the heart of peanut country, considering the majority of all the peanuts grown in the United States are grown within a 100 mile radius of Dothan.
A festival honoring the peanut was inaugurated on a near freezing Thursday, November 10, 1938. The three day event included a pageant, parade, historical play and grand ball. The guest speaker was Dr. George Washington Carver. Dr. Carver was a modest, unassuming man from the Tuskegee Institute who gained international fame with his development of over 300 products from the peanut.
The peanut festival was celebrated annually through 1941, but was postponed until after World War II. In 1947, the first post-war festival was presented and has continued every year since.
Throughout its history, the festival has been held in various locations, with most of its years at the Houston County Farm Center. The National Peanut Festival has been at its current location, the fairgrounds on US Highway 231 South, since 1999. With over 200 acres, 2 exhibit buildings, an amphitheater, an open air arena and an Ag complex, the fairgrounds are now capable of hosting year-round events and further promoting agriculture in the Wiregrass area, in addition to hosting the yearly harvest celebration.
Today, the National Peanut Festival has grown from a three-day event in 1938, to a ten-day event with attendance in excess of 150,000 fairgoers. Throughout those 10 days, the festival hosts numerous fun-filled, family events...amusement rides, animal attractions, agricultural displays, concerts, livestock shows and a parade. Of course we wouldn't be the National Peanut Festival without tons of PEANUTS!
This enormous event would not be possible every year without the more than 300 volunteers who give countless hours throughout the year in order to continue the festival's success. The local peanut farmers and the entire Wiregrass agriculture industry are to be commended for their continued dedication in giving this area a reason for celebrating such an important economic product.