53rd Shriner’s peanut boil – Another sold out success

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Labor Day Weekend in Luverne is synonymous with the irresistible aroma of boiling peanuts, with both locals and travelers descending upon the small town for the Crenshaw County Alcazar Shrine Club’s World’s Largest Peanut Boil.

The annual event has been a tradition for over five decades, drawing visitors from near and far to savor the iconic Southern snack. This year, the beloved tradition saw a staggering 33 tons of peanuts sold in just five days.
The tradition, now in its 53rd year, has become a hallmark of Luverne and a testament to the philanthropic spirit of the Shriners, according to Crenshaw County Shrine Club President Andy Compton. Compton emphasized the importance of community support in making the event a success each year, expressing his gratitude to the devoted volunteers and patrons.

“I want to thank all of the school groups that came out,” Compton said. “Thank you to all the volunteers. We appreciate you so much and we appreciate the members of the community for their continued support. We look forward to seeing everyone again around Labor Day next year.”

The annual peanut boil owes its existence to the late W. E. Granger, a charter member of the Crenshaw County Shrine Club. In the early 1970s, Granger was inspired by the need to raise funds for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Transportation fund, which had experienced depleted resources.

Granger’s inspiration struck as he drove along Highway 331, envisioning a Shriner’s boiled peanut sale on Labor Day weekend that could capitalize on the slightly increased traffic during the time. Today’s heavy traffic with many more vacationers heading to the beach is one of the driving aspects of what makes the fundraiser a success year after year.

The idea took hold and the first peanut sale was announced on the front page of the Aug. 27, 1975 edition of The Luverne Journal. With the support of 15 members of the newly formed local Shriners Club, Mayor E. L. Turner, and a generous donation of peanuts from Julian Maddox of Anderson Peanut Company, Granger’s vision became a reality, and the rest is history.

Though the official club organization happened in 1976, the peanut boil tradition began in 1970 when charter members rallied to help a local child who had been burned in a house fire in Rutledge. Since then, the event has grown, transformed and evolved into the massive event it is today.

Before the ever increasing demand made it more viable to sell peanuts from a central location, volunteers would sell peanuts at red lights in town, serving customers who didn’t even need to exit their vehicles. The event’s success lies now, as it always has, in the dedication of volunteers, the support of Crenshaw County citizens, and the town’s strategic location on the popular Labor Day travel route.

As a poignant part of the tradition, the Shriners dedicate each year’s peanut boil in honor of a deceased Alcazar Shrine Club member or member’s wife. This year’s peanut boil was dedicated to the memory of the late Tom Shows of Luverne.

Shriners International, a fraternal organization that requires members to be Masons, has 194 temples worldwide, with four in Alabama. The Crenshaw County Alcazar Shrine Club is part of this larger organization, working together to raise funds for the Shriners Hospitals for Children through events like the annual peanut boil, which draws volunteers from far and wide to support this noble cause. Volunteers like Paul Patterson of Greenville, South Carolina, who has been a dedicated Mason and Shriner for over five decades and has attended the Luverne peanut boil for nearly 30 years. He spoke passionately about the impact of Shriners Hospitals on children’s lives, emphasizing the importance of taking action in addition to prayers.

“It is like I heard a deacon say once, I can go home and sit on my front porch and pray from sunup to sun down but until I put my feet on the ground I ain’t done nothing,” Patterson said. “That is what it is all about, getting off your knees after praying and doing something, and now that a lot of the people that volunteered back when I started helping out have now passed on, I know they need volunteers. I am blessed to still be helping out with an organization that so greatly helps children. I have referred many kids to the Shriners Hospital and recently happened to cross paths with a kid who had scoliosis and needed help. Shriners Hospital only takes in youth 18 and younger, and we happened to catch him the year before he turned 18, and he is now doing good and working a full-time job. It is great to be a part of something like that.”

As Labor Day Weekend ends, Luverne can once again proudly claim its status as the home of the world’s largest peanut boil, where tradition, philanthropy, and community spirit collide in a celebration of Southern culture and charity.

For more about the World’s Largest Peanut Boil and to stay updated on next year’s event, please visit the Crenshaw County Alcazar Shrine Club Facebook page.