South Alabama Raises a Monument to a Pest

In Enterprise, Alabama, at the intersection of College and Main Streets, there’s a 13-foot tall monument that holds above her head an object of great admiration and honor: a boll weevil.  In further reverence to this shiny insect, there is a street called  Boll Weevil Circle, a strip mall called the Boll Weevil Plaza and a Boll Weevil Inn. Your country music plays on radio station Weevil 101 (call letters WVVL).  Why all this glory for what most consider an insidious pest?

Early in the 1900s, boll weevils invaded the U.S. from Mexico, eating up cotton crops wherever they spread. Rather than throw in the towel, farmers around Enterprise resisted – not by fighting the insects, but by planting crops the weevils wouldn’t eat. In short, they heeded the advice of agricultural scientists such as George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute and rebounded dramatically with crops of peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans.

In 1919, an Enterprise city councilman proposed honoring the boll weevil for forcing Enterprise to diversify its economy. A monument was dedicated that year. The monument is a classical Greek female figure standing on a pedestal and holding high a giant boll weevil. The inscription reads: “In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the Herald of Prosperity, this monument was erected by the Citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama.”

Every October, the South Alabama town renews the tribute with a one-day Downtown Boll Weevil Fall Festival. This year, it will fall on October 19th and promises small-town fun at its best.  For more information, visit the City of Enterprise, Alabama's website.


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