World’s Largest Peanut Boil another success

Published 3:35 pm Friday, September 12, 2008

The Crenshaw County Shrine Club, once again, has worked long and hard hours through another Labor Day weekend making many, many customers happy during their annual “World’s Famous Peanut Boil.”

This year, things got off to a little bit of an uncertain start thanks to the effects of Tropical Storm Fay.

The Shriners, who used to harvest their peanuts locally for several years, now get them from Jay, Fla. Over fourteen tons of peanuts were brought in on the Wednesday afternoon before Labor Day, and both Shriners and their many volunteers alike began the boilings that evening.

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“We started cooking on Aug. 27 and finished the last cooking at 1:30 that Monday afternoon,” Crenshaw County Shrine Club’s vice-president Vern Flowers said. “Last year we got about 15 tons, but we had to cut back some this year—Tropical Storm Fay didn’t help matters.”

“We don’t have to clean the peanuts like we used to,” Shrine Club treasurer William Baker said. “It used to take days just to get them cleaned.”

Baker’s mother, Mrs. Oma Baker, has been a regular volunteer for years.

“I just love coming to help,” she said, smiling. “It’s hard work, but you see so many people, and it’s a joy to help.”

About 40 volunteers came out this year—people the Shriners have always been able to depend on to help bag and sell the peanuts—in short, to do anything that’s needed throughout the weekend.

And since the Shriners were still cooking on Labor Day itself, they were able to sell the coveted bags of tasty goobers to passersby along South Forest Ave. in downtown Luverne Sunday and Monday, a welcome and familiar sight for residents and travelers alike.

Each bag of peanuts weighs in at 40 pounds. With each of the 18 pots holding 40 pounds of peanuts, and three pounds of salt being used per pot, a customer can expect to have some of the best tasting hot goobers in about two and a half hours “after a boiling.”

Baker added that 90 pounds of salt were purchased for this year’s boil. In addition to the 18 rolling pots, there is another tub that can cook 15 bags at one time. This, of course, takes a little longer to cook—three and a half hours, but Flowers says the club hopes to purchase another 4 x 4 tub in the near future that will help to boil more peanuts at one time.

“It will cut down on the amount of manual labor for us and produce more boiled peanuts at one time, so that’s definitely something we’re looking into,” Flowers said.

“This is very strenuous work,” he added. “We’ve got to do some modernization. Overall, it’ll help increase production.”

And did those high gas and fuel prices this year affect the Word’s Largest Peanut Boils’ profits?

“We used about $7,000 worth of propane this year,” Flowers said.

The Shrine Club pulled in about $22,000 in profits this past Labor Day weekend, according to Baker.

“The people in Luverne and Crenshaw County are tremendous,” Flowers said, smiling. “They always come out and support us, and we definitely hope everyone enjoyed it.”

Officers of the Crenshaw County Shrine Club include Chuck Gorey, president; Vern Flowers, vice-president; Shelton Morrell, secretary; and William Baker, treasurer.

This year’s peanut boil was in memory of the late Aubrey Alford, Howard Lisenby, and J. L. Jones.