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Home > About > Our History

Our History

We thought it would be nice to look back and reflect on some of the milestones of the Festival and the memories of those who have helped make the Festival what it is today.

  • 1938 - On a near freezing cold day, Dr. George Washington Carver was the guest speaker at the 1st Festival. Dr. Carver introduced peanuts to the Wiregrass and they saved the area after boll weevils destroyed the cotton crops.
  • The 1st Festival President was Harry P. Hall. The Volunteer of the Year Award is named in his honor and has been awarded every year to a Festival volunteer.
  • The 1st Miss Peanut was Elizabeth Johnson from Headland, AL. A number of years ago, she donated the dress she wore at the first Peanut Festival Queen's Ball in 1938 to the Festival.
  • Interestingly enough, the first few years the City of Dothan had a pageant, the winners were sponsored by local businesses and the contestant that sold the most tickets to the Festival won the title.
  • 1947 - The Jaycees and the Chamber of Commerce brought the Festival back after it was not held during World War II.
  • 1950 - Festival President Eustace Bishop, Sr. had a banner year; Miss America attended the Festival, Johnny Mack Brown rode his horse in the parade and Eddie Arnold appeared in concert.
  • 1952 - The Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution making the National Peanut Festival a non-profit organization with a Board of Trustees.
  • 1953 - A carnival was added to help finance the Festival.
  • Memberships were sold to the sponsoring group of merchants and businessmen. They were designated as the Royal Order of Festival Adopters (ROFA).
  • 1956 - The National Peanut Festival became accredited by the Association of Alabama Fairs, which entitled the Festival to receive State Aid for holding an agricultural fair, livestock shows and industrial & commercial exhibits.
  • 1958 - The 1st Little Miss National Peanut Festival Pageant was held, sponsored by Pepsi Cola Bottling Company. They still sponsor the pageant and hold the trademark for Little Miss Peanut. Jo Carol Williams, from Dothan, won the first pageant.
  • 1959 - The National Peanut Festival moved to the Houston County Farm Center.
  • 1964 - $5,000 was donated by the Festival to the Houston County Farm Center to build a cattle barn. The barn was later named in honor of Joe Carothers.
  • 1972 - As an innocent bystander, Sue Byrd expressed some constructive ideas to the Festival Board, was recruited as a volunteer and became the first woman to serve as President of the Festival.
  • 1982 - Ground breaking for the first permanent office located at the Houston County Farm Center. Mrs. Glo O'Donnell was Festival President that year and the Home Builders helped complete the building. Glo surprised everyone, even her husband, by riding an elephant in the parade. In 2012, she proudly rode in the NPF parade in honor of her 30th anniversary as President.
  • 1990 - Garth Brooks performed to packed crowds in the Farm Center Arena. Traffic was backed up completely around Ross Clark Circle. Allen Wells was Festival President that year, and started a property search for the Festival, since it had outgrown its location at the Houston County Farm Center.
  • 1993 - The National Peanut Festival purchased 150 acres on Highway 231 South from Mrs. Broma Adams. Mrs. Adams' late husband was Festival President in 1963. The National Peanut Festival celebrated its 50th year and Wayne Register served as President.
  • 1996 - The Dr. George Washington Carver Statue was dedicated on another near freezing day, just like when Dr. Carver spoke at the 1st Festival.
  • 1999 - The National Peanut Festival moved to its current location on Highway 231 South.
  • 2004 - An 59,000 sf arena was built and the Festival purchased an additional 50 acres to use for South parking.
  • 2005 - The Greased Pig & Calf Scramble events were brought back by popular demand. Since the Festival relocated there had not been a facility that could safely accommodate the events.
  • 2010 - The National Peanut Festival built a permanent office at the fairgrounds on Highway 231 South.
  • 2011 - A Ticket Office was added at the Main Entrance to the fairgrounds.
  • Mr. H.N. Lewis, who is currently on the Board of Trustees, has attended every National Peanut Festival except one. He missed one festival while serving in Europe during World War II. He fondly remembers, as a young boy, paying a dime to ride the bus from Baker Hill to the Festival. Mr. Lewis continues to stay active and spends most of his time promoting agriculture and youth participation in the Festival.
  • 2013 - Kiddie Land expanded
  • 2014 - Kiddie Land was expanded for the 2nd time. Dr GW Carver statue moved from the Premium building to the north gate entrance.
  • 2015 - A 24' Peanut was erected at the Hwy 231 Sign. The South Lots unused "Rodeo Country Arena" was demolished to make room for extra parking. Because of record rainfalls of over 8", the Fairgrounds did not open for business on Sunday, Nov 8. Both grassy parking lots were rendered unusable for most of the week. Up to 36 chartered buses were used each day of the Fair to get guests transported to & from the fairgrounds. New online ticketing system added with scanable barcoding thru TyTix. All Fairground rides began using Reithoffer Fair Cards with pre-loaded credits instead of paper tickets.
  • 2016 - it was decided to pave 37 acres in our parking lots. Approx 3800 paved spaces, access roads and storm water piped underground to detention to complete summer 2017. (approx. 1000 paved spaces ready by October 2016.) A Junior Fair Advisory Program (JFAP) was started and 15 area high school juniors and seniors began planning for the Fall Festival.
  • 2019 - A new and improved website and upgraded e-ticketing was introduced. A new Ag/Premium entry software was introduced.
  • 2020 - An additional 68 adjacent acres was purchased for additional future growth. The Peanut Festival was cancelled because of Covid.
  • 2021 - The Spring Fling by Reithoffer Shows will have rides/games/food April 2-11. 18 New Junior Fair Board members selected 3/25/21.
  • 2022 - NPF President Frances Cook announced the 2022 Fair Theme "Wiregrass Roots & Cowboy Boots!."
  • 2023 - New Executive Director, Tony Ellison, hired March 1st. Spring Fling announced for April.

We look forward to many more years, milestones and memories...we hope you will join us in the yearly celebration of The National Peanut Festival!

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