World’s Largest Peanut Boil is Labor Day tradition

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 30, 2012

“Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail” is the postal carriers’ motto, but the same applies to the Crenshaw County Shrine Club when it comes to boiling peanuts for Labor Day weekend.

Ronnie Thomas, president of the Crenshaw County Shrine Club, scoops up peanuts that are ready to be boiled.

For nearly four decades now, the Shriners have fired up the pots and boiled tons of peanuts, and nothing has ever put out their fires.

The annual World’s Largest Peanut Boil is a Labor Day tradition. Thousands of boiled peanut lovers make their way to Luverne during the holiday weekend to get their share of more than 20 tons of boiled goobers.

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The dark clouds and occasional rain Thursday just added to the ambiance of the World’s Largest Peanut Boil as people from near and far stood patiently in line for what just might be the world’s “best” boiled peanuts, said Ronnie Thomas, Shrine Club president.

“Our supplier is in Jay, Fla. and these peanuts just came out of the ground. As soon as they are dug and cleaned, they are loaded in a refrigerated trailer and hauled here for boiling.”

Thomas said 25 tons of green goobers will be boiled along with a ton or two for roasting.

“We started boiling Wednesday and we’ll have enough to last, hopefully, on into Labor Day,” he said.

How long the 25 tons will last depends a lot on the weather, but the weather has never kept people away before.

Thomas said he’s not sure how the World’s Largest Peanut Boil got its name.

“Years ago, somebody said this was the world’s largest peanut boil and it stuck,” he said. “We’ve been calling it that ever since and nobody’s challenged us on it.”

The Shriners first peanut boilings were held in downtown Luverne and then moved “on the grounds” out toward Rutledge. When time and money permitted, the Shriners built a large boiling shed.

The shed has taken on a different look in the past couple of years. The 20 boiling pots that were fired by hissing gas burners have been replaced with five cookers, or tanks, that take a lot of the heat off the Shriners and the volunteers.

“It got real hot standing and stirring up next to those boiling pots,” Thomas said. “You don’t have to do that with these tanks.”

About 600 pounds of peanuts can be boiled in one tank in about three hours where it took all 20 pots boiling full steam ahead to boil the same amount in the same amount of time.

But, so as not to completely abandon tradition, the Shriners have keep one pot boiling “just for old time’s sake” and so people can see how it was done.

Glen Mothershed is a 35-year volunteer with the World’s Largest Peanut Boil. He received the Shriners outstanding volunteer award for his dedication to the annual fund-raiser.

“I help out as my way of thanking the Shriners for all the good work they do, especially for burn victims,” he said. “They came to the aid of a little girl from this area that was burned in a cotton wagon. So, I’ve seen for myself what they do for others.”

The 2012 World’s Largest Peanut Boil opens around 5:30 each morning and closes, hopefully, before midnight, through the weekend and, if the peanuts hold out on into Labor Day.

The world’s “best” peanuts are $8 for the large bags and $4 for the small bags.