Dothan: Go nuts in Alabama
Dothan, Alabama is known as the “Peanut Capital of the World” due to the large number of peanuts grown in the surrounding region.
It is home to one of the state’s largest festivals when Miss National Peanut Festival is crowned each year and needless to say it also home to a plentiful supply of many people’s favourite snack in all sorts of forms. Early last year I discovered the delights of boiled peanuts – yes boiled! The normal ‘monkey’ nuts with which all Brits are familiar simmer away in their shells for anything up to 4 hours in a saline solution. When they emerge, the outer shell comes away easily as does the nasty brown inner skin to leave a mouthful of deliciousness combining the tang of salt with the crunch and earthy taste of the nut. Fabulous!
I was told then that a visit to Dothan (the th is pronounced with a lisp like affect) was imperative and six months later I turned up at the headquarters of the Peanut festival to learn all about the event and indeed other ways to enjoy the product. I learnt that like the town itself it’s not just about peanuts. The festival is an eight-day long combination of music, food and entertainment with almost a quarter of a million visitors. I also found out that amongst the organising committee the favoured way of consuming the nut was to have it fried! In Peanut oil obviously.
Why is this area so focussed on the common peanut? In the late 1930’s Dr George Washington Carver encouraged the use of peanuts as an alternative crop to cotton and this saved the area economically after boll weevils had destroyed the cotton crops upon which Dothan and much of the surrounding area had been dependent upon for hundreds of years.
There are, however, many other things to see and do in Dothan,Alabama besides visiting peanut-related attractions. The Dothan Area Botanical Gardens feature a variety of plants and flowers, as well as a butterfly house, a children’s garden, and a gift shop. Landmark Park is worth exploring and the 130-acre site is home to a working farm, a vintage train depot, and a variety of other historical buildings.
The downtown area of Dothan itself is a charming slice of small town America with a number of independent shops and boutiques selling everything from clothing and accessories to home decor and gifts. An abundance of top-quality independent restaurants are plentiful and given the location of the town, the availability of fresh local produce is mouth-watering.
During the Covid pandemic Dothan underwent somewhat of a renaissance. As most holidaymakers were aware, Florida did not put any restrictions in place during that period and as a consequence hotel occupancy and resulting rates were very high. Many people decided to take advantage of the lower accommodation prices available in places such as Dothan and travel to the coast on a daily basis. Twenty first century Dothan, smaller town, nearby open spaces and of course peanuts were introduced to some people for the first time. Once tasted, would you want anything else.