May 27, 2004
Sylvester-- Sylvester is the county seat of Worth County, which was founded in 1853. Worth County has a population of nearly 22,000, while Sylvester boasts six thousand residents.
Carved from Irwin and Dooly Counties, Worth spans 576 square miles, which makes it the 4th largest county in land size in Georgia. And much of that land is used for farming. Worth County has an agriculture-based economy, with 23 plantations. Worth ranks 4th in the state in cotton production and 1st in peanut production.
Sylvester proudly promotes itself as the Peanut Capital of the World, so it's only fitting that they celebrate the peanut here in Sylvester. Every fall, the annual Peanut Festival is held. The Peanut Festival features parades, beauty pageants, entertainment and lots and lots of peanuts.
This fall will mark Sylvester's 41st annual Peanut Festival. And peanuts certainly deserve such a celebration. Georgia peanut farmers provide almost half of the U.S. peanut crop each year, worth $390 million in 2001.
Georgia has 6,000 farm families growing peanuts and another 37,000 Georgians working on peanut farms, in peanut-related agribusiness services, in shelling plants and in factories that roast peanuts or make candy or peanut butter.
Sylvester has a beautifully revived downtown area. Public and private partnerships have made it possible. The city's streetscape project was awarded a half million dollars from the Department of Transportation for downtown sidewalk development.
And a centerpiece of the downtown area is the old Woolard Hotel. "We're especially proud of the old Woolard Hotel which is an old hotel that has been developed for retail, I think there are eight retails shops on the bottom with eight or nine loft apartments on top, so we're very very proud of that," says Mayor Bill Yearta.
That hotel, city hall and the old train depot were included in the recent Georgia Cities Tour.
One of the most visible landmarks in Sylvester is the old train at the corner of Main Street and Highway 82. Old Engine 100 was placed in this spot in 1957 as a gift from the Georgia-Ashburn-Sylvester-Camilla Railway. The coal-burning engine served the railroad for 48 years until the new kid on the block - the diesel engine, replaced it.
The old train hauled tons of freight back and forth in this part of the state. And today, Old Engine 100 serves as a reminder of days gone by.
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