Those who believe there can’t be a proper National Peanut Festival parade without a nip in the air will be cheered Saturday: some forecasts predict temperatures in the 40s rising to the mid-50s as the parade unfolds through the morning hours.
Despite iffy weather throughout festival week — and in the preceding few weeks — Saturday morning’s forecast is shaping as prime parade-viewing weather. Bring a wrap and sunscreen, as it’s possible to get a chill and sunburn at the same time in the Deep South.
The parade is the culmination of the weeklong National Peanut Festival, in its 76th year of marking the harvest of what has long been one of our area’s more profitable crops, thanks in large part to celebrated Tuskegee University scientist George Washington Carver, whose work with the legume developed scores of uses for the versatile crop.
Those who’ve made the parade an annual pilgrimage know to expect elaborate floats, marching bands, go-carts and mini-bikes, beauty queens, and an array of other parade entries. And they’ll get a gander at the latest and greatest farm equipment, as the festival’s enduring theme is our area’s deep agricultural roots.
And, of course, there will be peanuts — roasted, boiled, tossed and churned from a cement mixer into the street for the youngsters to gather like doubloons.
Those new to the area, and new to the NPF parade experience, need to know that traffic flow will be altered, as Main Street will be closed to traffic at 7 a.m., with the staging area along East Main Street blocked before dawn. Make your way along parallel streets toward parking areas. The parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. and wrap up just after noon, and the road will be cleared shortly thereafter.
Above all else, enjoy the procession, and if you’re so inclined, head out to the fairgrounds later to see the exhibits and sample the local nonprofit groups’ food offerings.