The Boll Weevil Monument turns 100 years old Dec. 11, and the city of Enterprise doesn’t want it to go by without celebration.
Activities include a Boll Weevil Monument rededication ceremony, presentation of centennial tribute markers, burial of a time capsule, downtown tours, vendors, centennial memorabilia, living history films, book signings and music.
The monument is in the middle of Main Street and features a Greek goddess statue, arms stretched upward, holding a giant replica of the tiny insect that brought peanuts to the farming forefront of the Southeast. Weevils destroyed cotton crops in the early 1900s, devastating the Southern economy.
Farmers like Coffee County native Carl Sanders share a special connection with the monument and understand its significance.
“It’s hard to say where we’d be without peanuts in the Wiregrass,” said Sanders, president of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. “My family has farmed peanuts on our land for over 100 years, but initially peanuts were sort of a side crop. Everything with peanuts had to be done by hand. Cotton was the mainstay of the economy then. The boll weevil forced farmers to look at peanuts in a new way — as a viable cash crop.”
The transition to peanuts, along with the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, introduced new farming methods, while technology improved peanut harvest.
Eventually, the eradication program brought cotton back to the area, Sanders said. The program required new practices such as mowing stalks after cotton harvest to prevent weevils from overwintering in the fields. Insect traps helped detect weevils, allowing farmers to use control methods only when necessary, protecting beneficial insects.
Enterprise leaders say the monument is more than homage to a bug.
“The statue has brought recognition to the city for all these years as the only monument in the world honoring a pest, but the original intent of the monument was to memorialize a much greater message,” said Enterprise Tourism Director Tammy Doerer. “The monument sends local citizens and visitors the message that hope can rise from the depths of despair, and that open-minded people with a spirit of cooperation and determination can triumph over adversity.”
Enterprise Special Projects Coordinator Kay Kirkland and Doerer co-chair the city’s Centennial Committee that’s charged with planning the celebration. Kirkland said the committee began planning the event more than a year ago.
Visit Enterprise-100.com or VisitEnterprise.com for more information.