For a few moments Thursday, the National Peanut Festival stole the show on the U.S. Senate floor.
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., introduced a resolution honoring the festival, which started 81 years ago. Jones said he wanted to recognize the festival, which he attended a few times as a youngster, since he could not visit the 76th iteration this year.
“I thought it was a great way to honor Dothan and the festival,” he said. “Half of the peanuts grown in the Unites States are grown in a 100-mile radius of Dothan. I wanted to honor something that’s important to the state and important to the peanut industry.”
The resolution documented the history of peanuts from the legume’s origin in South America to its journey to North America. The document also recognized the $1 billion-plus value of the peanut to the U.S. economy, then closed with a look at the impact of the National Peanut Festival on the local culture and economy.
The resolution added that the National Peanut Festival attracts 200,000 people annually.
Jones said his staffers keep much of the information included in the resolution “at their fingertips” given the importance of the peanut to Alabama. Jones said the information is valuable when discussing the Farm Bill and helped him advocate for federal aid for local farmers after Hurricane Michael in 2018.
Resolutions similar to the one Jones read on the Senate floor are “relatively common” and often occur around the time of certain festivals or commemorations, he said. Since they usually are nonpartisan, it does not take long to craft them and have them introduced, he added.
Even though the gesture itself is ceremonial, the reading of the resolution carries some weight.
“This will be in the record of the U.S. Senate for eternity,” he said. “To some extent it’s ceremonial … but for folks involved in the peanut industry and peanut festival, it’s a cool thing.”