DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Set up is underway for the 2023 National Peanut Festival as hundreds of thousands of people from across the Tri-state are set to visit, but this year’s visit will come with some security changes.
Throughout the week, staff at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds have been on the move prepping for a festival that last year brought in over 300,000 people.
So far, only one ride the Wild Mouse has been put up. On Monday and Tuesday of next week, the almost empty fairgrounds will be filled with rides, vendors and other booths ready to go for opening night.
“We have tried to do something a little different this year as far as having our people scheduled to come in,” National Peanut Festival Executive Director, Tony Ellison said. “So that we can make sure that everyone gets the attention they need.”
One big change happening for festival goers this year has to do with security. The National Peanut Festival is incorporating passive metal detectors, a clear bag policy, and bag checks.
These are similar to the policies the Dothan Civic Center and Dothan City Schools implemented over the past year.
“Basically if you don’t set that off you’re not going to have to worry about getting wanded or anything, but we can’t allow any handguns or knives that kind of thing on the property,” Ellison said.
Another concern for some festival goers has to do with the Peanut Festival Parade. Last year, there was a shooting on a street very close to the parade that led to the death of one person and caused people to run in fear around downtown, but Ellison says they talked with the Dothan Police Department and the Houston County Sheriff’s Department about upping security.
Both law enforcement agencies pledged to do so as Ellison says they don’t want a repeat of last year.
“Nobody wants a repeat of last year and really and truly that event had nothing to do with the parade itself, but you know unfortunately it happened really close,” Ellison said.