Thomas R. & Deborah A.
is a drive-by city—too often. Beckoned south, lured to the beaches of the
Florida Panhandle, people drive by. We’ve
done it too—just another town on the way.
Next time, stop by for a visit. It’ll
be worth it. You’ll find the
area has much to offer.
’s southeast corner—
to the east and the
lies at the heart of
’s Wiregrass Region. The region is
named for a tough, wiry grass that once covered the
plains along the
. The round-bladed, bunch grass in
the Aristida family served as a
primary nutrition source for the vast herds of cattle initially brought by the
Spanish. Today the grass is fairly
scarce, and most residents wouldn’t know it if they saw it.
Known as the “Peanut Capital of the World,”
has many options for the traveling public: take a relaxing walk or have a
picnic at Dothan Area Botanical Gardens, indulge in a bit of culture at the
Wiregrass Museum of Art, or stop by
for a look at the farming ways of long ago.
. Skydiving is available at the
for the truly adventurous—everything in a nutshell.
Originally known as “Poplar Head,” for an area well, the city was
in 1885, taking the name from the Bible, where the name means “wells.”
there’s a statue of Joseph, with the inscription, “For I heard them say,
let us go to
out bid other area locations to be the site of the first railroad to pass
through the region. The railroad
’s growth and prosperity. This
small city of 60,000 today, serves as a hub for southwest
and the Florida Panhandle—and a center for health care, business and retail
services for the Wiregrass Region.
was once king—agriculturally speaking, until the boll weevil wrecked havoc
upon the crop. Farmers needed
another viable crop and they turned to the peanut.
is the center of the
peanut-producing region. Nearly
half the peanuts consumed in
are grown within a 100-mile radius of
. Each fall there is a two-week
festival honoring the peanut harvest—the National Peanut Festival.
There’s even a gold peanut monument by the Dothan Convention and
is a 100-acre part set aside to
preserve the cultural heritage of the Wiregrass Region.
The park features several special events throughout the year.
Spring Farm Day is one such event. Experience
the living history of life on the farm a hundred years ago.
music at the park gazebo sets the scene for Spring Farm Day—a celebration of
the farming heritage of the Wiregrass region. Spring on the farm means
work—and plenty of it. Costumed
volunteers bring farm life of years gone by to life.
See the garden plowed by a pair of mules, watch sheep being sheared, take
in the quilting or soap and basket making demonstrations.
The park is designated as “
’s Official Museum of Agriculture.” There
are several historic structures, relocated to the park from various areas of the
region. There’s a one-room
schoolhouse, a church, and a general store where visitors are greeted by
volunteers. There are nature trails
for hiking and exploring. Finally
there’s the 8,000 square feet interpretive center and planetarium.
Dothan Area Botanical Garden (DABG) is a partially wooded 50-acre site that
makes for a relaxing escape for a quiet walk or a picnic.
The garden location, a former soybean farm on
, was purchased in 1996 so it’s new by botanical garden standards, just
getting firmly rooted. The gates
opened to the public in 1997—no entrance fee. Currently there are eight
completed gardens: Azalea, Butterfly, Camellia, Demonstration, Gregory,
Heirloom, Herb and Rose, with other gardens planned.
The Southern Heirloom Garden was established to preserve seeds and plants
from past generations for the future. Most
species were collected from old homes, gardens, and roadsides of the southeast.
The Rose Garden, DABG’s first established garden contained 450 rose
has produced more than a ton of vegetables for the local food bank.
DABG—committed to the conservation of natural resources for future
generations—provides the public with opportunities for education, research,
and the enjoyment of beauty.
US Army Aviation Museum at
features a collection of more than 160 military aircraft, encompassing one of
the world’s greatest collections of military helicopters.
Forty-five aircraft on public display illustrate the Army’s involvement
in aviation from the days of the Wright brothers, including World War 1 combat
aircraft through modern equipment such as the UH-60 Black Hawk and the AH-64
Apache currently seeing action in
. An extensive research library is
part of the museum.
Wiregrass Museum of Art was founded with the express intention of supporting
local artists, while providing educational programs and increasing the area’s
overall appreciation of the arts. It
is the only art museum in southeast
. Located in a former Power &
Light utility building dating from 1913, the structure is on the list of
National Historic Buildings. The
16-feet high walls of the main gallery offer plenty of open, airy exhibition
art all around
’s “Festival of the Murals” is a series of murals painted on the walls of
historic buildings depicting the history of the Wiregrass Region.
Since the running theme is peanuts, don’t miss the many “Peanuts
around Town” displays. Much like
’s cows and
’ fish, these are sculptures, structured as a peanut but shaped into something
more—like the “Elvis” peanut in front of the Days Inn on Ross Clark
Circle. There’s the “Officer I.
B. Nuts” at the Dothan Police Department.
A peanut becomes a fire hydrant complete with Dalmatian outside the Fire
Department. The four-foot sculptures
dot the lawns of organizations, businesses and homes of
to promote “The Peanut Capital of the World.”
Stock photography by Thomas R. Fletcher at Alamy
Performance Apparel @ ExOfficio.com
IF YOU GO: