DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - The sound of music and laughter at the Fairgrounds is now replaced with heavy machines taking apart some of the big attractions at the Peanut Festival. Organizers said attendance numbers this year topped other years making this the most attended festival to date.
"Last year we had about 180,000 guests. This year we are around 200,000 guests for the 10-day festival. It's just over a 20,000 increase. People came!" said Jason Rudd, Peanut Festival President.
Rudd said great weather was a big factor in helping bring in crowds this year.
"The Thursday before we opened on Friday, the 10-day forecast was the best we could have hoped for, " said Rudd, "Usually it's heavy coats during the National Peanut Festival and only two nights did we have to use a heavy coat."
Another draw this year was new entertainment acts.
"Our Brett Young Concert Thursday night was huge. It was almost a standing room only concert. That's great for the National Peanut Festival. A lot of people come out for the rides and the entertainment, but this Brett Young guy pulled in the masses," said Rudd.
People from across Alabama, Florida, and Georgia come to Dothan to experience the Peanut Festival each year. The crowds not only spend money at the festival, but at local businesses.
"I'll give you a scenario; we had a guest come from Florida. They'll spend a day at the National Peanut Festival on a Saturday, and come and spend the night at a local hotel, and come back out on a Sunday and that's pretty much on par for a lot of folks," said Rudd.
The Country Inn and Suites off Ross Clark Circle was one hotel that said they did get some traffic because of the Peanut Festival.
"Our typical occupancy is in the vicinity of 60 percent. We had around 80 percent with this event going on. About 75 percent was directly related to the Peanut Festival," said Randy Brown, General Manager, Country Inn and Suites.
Brown said the Peanut Festival traffic at his hotel is greater than the typical peak season around December. He said the festival keeping his hotel busy meant more hours for his employees.