This weekend was very… nostalgic. Josh and I went to my hometown for the weekend. He’s only been a few times, so I forget what I’ve shown/told him about childhood memories, and he gets to hear the same stories and see the same places over and over and over.
Anyway, we spent Friday night at the opening night of the National Peanut Festival; yes, you read that right. The festival is a way to celebrate peanut farmers. It’s set in South Alabama because that’s where about half of the United States’ peanuts are grown (or at least within a 100-mile radius of Dothan, Alabama).
Until Friday, I hadn’t been since I was 17 years old, so I was pretty stoked. I spent the entire week prior reminiscing about all of the fabulous rides and telling Josh how we would ride all of my favorites.
I’m going to backtrack for just a moment here. One of the guys I work with is actually from Dothan, and when he overheard me telling my supervisor about the Peanut Festival, he chimed in, talking about all the great food there. He told her he used to love the rides, but added that once you reach a certain age you don’t care about the rides anymore and it becomes more about the food. I was like “Psh! Yeah right! The Peanut Festival will forever be about the rides. When I’m like 50, I’ll still want to ride the Himalaya and Starship 2000. No doubt!”
So Josh and I got to the Peanut Festival, and the first ride I beelined for was the Himalaya, a fast-paced ride that goes in circles and over bumps. It spins so fast that it pushes the riders to the outside seat (they make larger people ride on the outside so the little folks don’t get squished). I forgot about Josh’s motion sickness, so he didn’t feel so great afterward; I also squished him near-to-death. I, on the other hand, got a great arm workout from trying to hold myself off of him by grabbing the pull-down bar/other side of the seat/whatever I could to keep from hurting him. (Still one of my favorite rides, regardless.)
After walking off the nausea, we took on bumper cars and a haunted mansion (which was hilarious, by the way; the guy in the cart with us yelled “Oh, no!” in a sarcastic tone at the sight of a plastic, light-up skeleton behind plastic bars that featured a sound–I can only assume this was supposed to be spooky–like an old man groaning) and a cute little kiddie coaster (which still freaked me out, thanks to the height factor).
Finally, I found the Starship 2000. This ride is actually shaped like a UFO. The inside is lined with these “seats” that you stand flat against. As the Starship spins, centripetal force shoves you against the “seat” and makes the “seat” slide up. I could actually feel it pulling my kind-of-heavy earrings back. Josh was a trooper. We both knew he would feel awful after riding, so he sidelined it and held my purse while I rode. (It’s the little things, y’all.)
I think it’s safe to say the petting zoos were our favorite parts of the festival. The first we saw featured a giraffe, a water buffalo, a camel, a longhorn, a miniature horse, alpacas, lemurs, anteaters, a couple of sheep, a variety of goats and some other animals. I had been dying to pet the giraffe all night (we actually went to this petting zoo twice that night), and I finally got my chance at the end of the night, just minutes before they closed the tent. The giraffe’s fur was surprisingly coarse.
The second petting zoo was more exotic, and people had to pay to actually pet the animals (probably because a trained professional had to climb in the cage with them). This was my favorite. Just like the first, this zoo had lemurs and anteaters; the difference was the spider monkey that lived on laughs (seriously, he loved making people laugh, so he repeatedly threw his kennel around in the cage and he threw his peanut shells at the person who gave him a peanut), the humongous lion cub (its paws were already almost the size of my face!), the adorable tiger cubs (there was a Bengal tiger and a white tiger that you could pay to pet and play with) and it rambunctious bobcat (it kept leaping at people as if it could get through the cage).
As for the food, it wasn’t as remarkable as my coworker made it seem. Josh did try a corn dog from the Corn Dog Man (upon my coworker’s suggestion), which he did enjoy–and it was only $3. The rest of the food was greasy and mediocre at best. (I guess that’s just fair food for ya, right?)
And, of course, I couldn’t leave without at least a handful (or, you know, 16 ounces) of boiled peanuts. Hey, when in Dothan, right?