Record numbers, attendance seen at 2023 National Peanut Festival

The 79th festival saw a 20% increase in attendance compared to last year, which is credited to new security measures, diverse food vendors and the new NPF app.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 3:06 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - It’s never a surprise to hear that the National Peanut Festival is one of the most successful events in the Wiregrass, but that success saw new heights in 2023 with the Fairgrounds seeing multiple attendance and other records broken.

One of the biggest wins for the 79th festival was a 20% increase in attendance compared to last year. Alongside that attendance increase was a 3-day attendance record set for the final three days of this year’s festival, with around 86,045 patrons making their way through the Fairgrounds gates during those three days.

Record attendance was also recorded for two of the festival’s staples, that being Special Citizen’s Day and Senior Citizen’s Day. For Special Citizen’s Day in particular, NPF Executive Director Tony Ellison says that over 3,600 special citizens were treated to a meal, entertainment and entry to the Fairgrounds courtesy of the work of volunteers and the Dothan Civitan Club.

Another festival staple is All In Credit Union Night, which sees the first 10,000 patrons admitted free to the festival, with this year’s iteration noted as helping the Fairgrounds see a record Thursday night crowd by over 35%.

Several factors are believed to have played into this year’s attendance increase, according to Ellison, including new security measures, the new NPF app, and a record number of vendors as well as more diverse food options.

Speaking of food, the 2023 festival saw the largest number of food vendors ever at the festival. Even with the extra competition though, longtime vendors of the National Peanut Festival still saw their numbers rise, with a 20% increase in sales reported by nearly all of the previous vendors.

A newcomer that did shine at this year’s National Peanut Festival was Krewe of Kolosse, the hosts of Dothan’s Mardi Gras festivities. KOK won three awards at the “Taste of the Festival” contest, taking home the sweets award for their beignet sticks, the entree award for their crawfish mac and cheese, and the overall winner award for this year’s contest.

Agriculture shows are always a big part of the National Peanut Festival, and one important milestone was seeing the largest hog show in festival history on Thursday and Friday of the festival.

One proudly touted win for the 79th festival was a significant increase in premium exhibits at the Fairgrounds, which included arts & crafts, photography and horticulture. Another win came in the form of some of the festival’s most engaging events, as the Greasy Pig/Calf Scramble and both Demolition Derby performances saw capacity crowds of over 4,000 attendees at BankPlus Arena for all the events.

On the entertainment end, country singer Megan Moroney’s concert on Tuesday night of the festival is reported to have sold the most reserved and preferred seating tickets ever at the National Peanut Festival.

The helping hands and hard work of several people get the nod for helping in the success of this year’s festival, with over 460 volunteers accounting for over 17,440 hours of work during the multi-day event, and a major win for the upgraded security presence being no reports of major incidents at the Fairgrounds and a positive public response to the new safety measures.

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