As Charlie recently pointed out, Hurricane Michael devastated south Georgia. The property loss is in the tens of millions. Crop damage is horrific, not to mention the loss of lives. All of these things are heartbreaking, and the recovery period will be long. Thank you to every first responder, every lineman and linewoman who took part in repairs, and all of the everyday folks who have sent money and goods to the victims of Michael.
With every tragedy, of course, come the lighter moments. Enter our big peanut. Okay, our really, really big peanut.
The World’s Largest Giant Peanut of Ashburn rivals Marietta’s Big Chicken for kitschiest landmark in Georgia. Since 1975, the World’s Largest Peanut has welcomed all who stop off of I-75 for selfies, including Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. It celebrates Georgia’s being first in peanut production, and it also stands in front of what is believed to be the world’s largest peanut shelling plant.
Hurricane Michael, in all of its ferociousness, ruthlessly toppled the peanut and cracked it wide open. According to the Macon Telegraph, Turner County Commission Chairman Nick Denham has estimated the repair bill to be between $10,000 and $20,000. So, the good folks of Ashburn have done what any small town faced with an unexpected, big expense might do when it was the difference between people pulling off at your exit of I-75 or driving just a little bit longer down the road: They set up a GoFundMe page.
Yep, I donated. Don’t you laugh. I love these kinds of monuments and think they’re each bizarre little treasures that give a person a sense of place. Everywhere, America has a McDonald’s and a BP station. Only Ashburn, Georgia had – and will have again – the World’s Largest Peanut. While Turner County tries desperately to regain its footing when it comes to its mainstay of agriculture, perhaps we can prop it up just a little by the return of its main tourist attraction.
Holly is an archivist at one of Georgia's institutions of higher learning. In a past life, she was a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill. She cares a lot about records management, open records laws, and privacy laws. Political persuasion? It's complicated. What's not complicated is that she's proudly equal parts Bulldog and Tar Heel.