Alabama’s premier festival for celebrating the annual harvesting season of the goober pea is starting this (Friday) evening with scores of activities, exhibitions and eats.
This year’s theme “the Ultimate Roadside Attraction” is a nod to the festival’s visibility at the side of the road that attracts those passing through the area.
“That’s because of the agricultural market in this area,” National Peanut Festival President Beverly Lampkin said. “Because of the giant peanut and the cotton on the other side of road, I thought it would be fitting to mark us as the ‘Ultimate Roadside Attraction.’”
For the 76th National Peanut Festival, planners have pulled out all the stops with hundreds of expositions to honor local peanut farmers and celebrate the important economic product for Southeastern Alabama.
There are seven new attractions including a new little tykes area with five moon bounces for toddlers shorter than 30 inches inside Kiddie Land. There’s also a new swing ride featuring several double swings, an ax-throwing booth, a new “Galaxy” roller coaster, and a new haunted house ride called “Ghost Manor.”
“Tidal Wave” is returning this year after being gone for a couple years, along with the fan favorite “Speed.” The festival also features a spin on a classic: a brand new “Zipper” ride.
The board of directors ensures that this year will be more bright and colorful than ever with an enhanced light show and new LED lights on many of the major rides.
Reithoffer Shows, proprietor of the traveling midway, also has “comfort stations” dispersed around the grounds with seating areas and charging stations.
In terms of treats, it’s rolling out the classics: the esteemed Corn Dog Man, all the sweet and savory fried things, freshly picked corn-on-the-cob, caramel apples, elephant ears, and different preparations of the legume behind it all — boiled, roasted, salted, Cajun-style, or even flavored with coconut lime.
The family-friendly carnival boasts a number of amusement rides, a petting zoo, agricultural displays, several concerts, livestock shows, hundreds of food and gift vendors, and a parade to top off the 10-day event.
This enormous event is made possible with nearly 400 volunteers and a board of directors who ensure the event operates efficiently and safely for patrons.
This year, the Dothan-Houston County Emergency Management Agency lent four observation towers so safety officials have more visibility of the complex.
A representative from the National Weather Service will also be on site to advise the board on the weather conditions.
Local booster clubs, students organizations, churches and nonprofits use the event to sell food and wares to raise funds that they use throughout the year. Some organizations have reported profiting over $50,000 with a single year’s presence at the fair.
The event also serves as an economic engine for Dothan, attracting visitors to the Circle City who may stay overnight and patronize local shops and restaurant in addition to the yearly affair.
Whether fairgoers are from the Wiregrass or not, they just might be in for a shell of a time.
On the far south of Dothan, the “Peanut Capital of the World, a 24-foot peanut will show you the entrance for parking to the fairgrounds, located on U.S. 231 South. Gates open at 4 p.m. today and close Nov. 10.
The NPF parade will take place Saturday, Nov. 9, at 9:30 a.m. in downtown Dothan in honor of longtime volunteer Johnny Middlebrooks.
Click here for a complete schedule of events and special-priced days.