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September 29, 2004   Email to Friend 

Brundidge Spreads On The Fun At Annual Peanut Butter Festival
Jaine Tredwell

Costumed volunteers parade through downtown Brundidge during the annual Peanut Butter Festival parade.
Just as surely as the peanut dust rises in the fall, tradition says that it will settle on the small south Alabama town of Brundidge on the last Saturday of October.

For 13 years, the community has come together to celebrate the town's proud heritage in the peanut butter industry and the role the little peanut continues to play in the area's economy with the annual Peanut Butter Festival.

Brundidge is peanut butter proud and has every right to be. The town played an important role in pioneering the peanut butter industry in the Southeast.

In 1928, Brundidge native J.D. Johnston set up a crude machine in the small upstairs area of a wood-frame building just off Main Street and started one of the first peanut butter mills in the southeastern United States. Peanut butter's popularity spread, and before long, the mill was shipping out more than two million jars of the popular foodstuff a year. In the early 1930s, Grady Johnson opened another peanut butter mill on the south side of town. Together, the peanut butter mills provided a giant economic boost to the area and helped sustain the town during the Great Depression.

Big food processing companies proved to be too much competition for the small mills. The late 1940s marked the beginning of the end for them. The smell of fresh roasted peanuts faded into memory. But, the people of Brundidge haven't forgotten their heritage and neither do they forget those who provide the food and fiber for their town and their country.

The Peanut Butter Festival is a harvest and heritage celebration that invites folks to come back to the way it used to be when families came to town on Saturday to trade and enjoy the fellowship of their friends and neighbors.

The Peanut Butter Festival begins when the rooster crows with Grandma's Smokehouse breakfast for those who want to get the day off to a relaxing, filling start. For the more energetic, there's the 5K Peanut Butter Run that winds through the downtown area that is all decked out for the Peanut Butter Festival.

The festival stage features non-stop entertainment--picking, singing and dancing. The festival also has arts and crafts, and food vendors serve everything from grits and goobers to turnip greens and fried apple pies. The Brundidge Historical Society, which sponsors the festival, hosts the Peanut Butter TasteFest where peanut butter sandwich samples are free for the taking.

Games and contests for all ages run throughout the day, and champions are crowned in hog calling, goat dressing, chicken shooing, hay pitching, goober rolling and lots of other fun events. Kids of all ages can swing on tires, walk on stilts, shell corn, churn butter, grind peanuts into butter or hunt for nickels in a haystack.

Annual events include the Peanut Butter Recipe Contest, construction of Alabama's Largest PB&J Sandwich and the Nutter Butter Parade. Demonstrators of old time crafts, antique farm vehicles, agricultural exhibits and a petting zoo add interest and fun to the festival.

Most visitors to the festival enjoy sitting back and tapping their toes to the great music while munching on peanuts--boiled, fried, roasted or raw--while the kids run and play. What makes the annual Peanut Butter Festival even more unique is that folks can come and enjoy all the fun even if they don't have a dime in their pockets.

There's no admission charge and a good time is goober-bound and guaranteed.

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