Georgia's 'Giant Goober' Returns

40-foot-tall monument to local peanuts has been rebuilt after being felled by a hurricane 5 years ago
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 25, 2023 2:14 PM CDT
Georgia's 'Big Peanut' Returns
Cole Sercer of Sercer Machine and Fabrication stands beside the Big Peanut that he and his employees designed and built near Interstate 75 in Ashburn, Georgia, on Thursday.   (Joy Crosby/Georgia Peanut Commission via AP)

Georgia's "Big Peanut" is back. The roadside landmark along Interstate 75 in south Georgia was rededicated Thursday, nearly five years after an earlier version was felled by the winds of Hurricane Michael. This time, the giant goober is made of sheet metal, not fiberglass. It's a symbol of pride in the heart of south Georgia's Peanut Belt, as well as an enticement for tourists to pull off the highway in the small town of Ashburn, reports the AP. The Ashburn-Turner County Chamber of Commerce raised nearly $80,000 to replace the giant groundnut, which had saluted motorists since 1975 until it was blown down on Oct. 10, 2018. The majority of the money came from the Georgia Department of Agriculture, although Turner County residents also raised thousands.

The peanut, atop a brick pedestal, has come to symbolize the county of 9,000 people, which is halfway between Macon and the Florida state line. "I think it represents home," said Ashley Miller, the chamber's executive director. "I know it's a small town, but when you say, 'Have you seen the peanut?' That's me." She said it's also a fitting tribute to peanut farmers in a county where almost everyone is touched by agriculture. Community leaders spent about $70,000 to replace the peanut, holding the remaining money for maintenance. They hired Cole Sercer, of Sercer Machine & Fabrication in nearby Rebecca, to make the new peanut.

Sercer said he and employees modeled the new nut after the remains of the one destroyed by the hurricane. But it's made differently, with a metal pole and frame inside and dozens of custom-worked sheet metal panels forming the curvy shell of the nut. Below is a golden crown with an aluminum frame and yellow plastic panels. The peanut is painted in brown and beige architectural paint and, in a modern touch, is now illuminated by LED lights at night. It took workers a combined 700 to 800 hours to build it, Sercer says. From the bottom of the brick pylon to the top of the peanut, Sercer says it's more than 40 feet tall. Next up is making the Big Peanut more welcoming in the social media age. Miller said Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis once took a selfie with the previous giant goober, and she plans to set up a "selfie spot" so tourists can get the best angle with the new Big Peanut.

(More peanuts stories.)

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