Ashburn “Big Peanut” secures funding to be rebuilt
ASHBURN, Ga. (WALB) - A big piece of South Georgia is making a return.
Ashburn’s Big Peanut was destroyed during Hurricane Michael almost four years ago. Wednesday, the city secured enough funds to replace the monument.
Dennis Kendrick, Turner County Young Farmers Advisor, said the peanut was not in great shape before it was blown down.
“The cables had deteriorated and we had already begun to raise funds to refurbish it. (Hurricane Michael) put it from a plan of community service to a state of needed emergency to fix it,” Kendrick said.
Turner Counties’ young farmers were able to raise nearly $12,000. The Chamber of Commerce donated $15,000 out of their reserves.
As of a few weeks ago, funds were at $30,000 with a goal of over $80,000. Ashley Miller, the executive director for Ashburn’s Chamber of Commerce, said it has been hard to raise funds.
“When the hurricane first fell, we had to worry about our people. We had to worry about her infrastructure. We had to worry about making sure that roads were cleared out (and) bridges were okay. Now is the time though thankfully,” Miller said.
Carden Summers, State Senator for District 13, campaigned for assistance from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. A few weeks ago, a $55,000 donation was secured.
“We considered it a national monument. Being it was a national monument or a monument that was registered with the state, we were able to generate some funding,” said Summers said.
When Miller heard of the extra support, she was overjoyed.
“I wanted to cry. It was just so fantastic because It has been for years. I can’t go a day without somebody asking me when are we going to get the big peanut back,” Miller said.
Kendrick remembers the days when he and his high school friends would meet up at the peanut.
“Growing up in the country, it wasn’t like we’d come to town every day. Before we went home we hang out there sometimes. Everyone knew about the peanut,” Kendrick said.
When it was destroyed, he was heartbroken. Miller said the rebuild needed to happen because it is a huge tourist attraction for the city.
“Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher came and took a picture. There are also people in this world that just loved and collected and saw the world’s largest. So this is the world’s largest peanut,” Miller said.
It also represents what Turner County farmers contribute. For most South Georgians, it’s simply a sense of home.
“When they see that big peanut, they know ‘I’m home’ or ‘I’m close to home’ or ’I’m only an hour from where I’m going.’ So it’s a landmark. It shows where Ashburn is on the map,” Miller said.
The peanut will be built to the same size and shape at the same location by Carroll’s Sausage. The crown is complete now, but the body still needs work. The city hopes to have it complete by next summer.
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