Public Art in South Alabama
I don’t know about you, but the first time I saw a sculpture of a woman raising a beetle above her head like it’s the hero in a Greek drama, I thought… “Huh?” But, in Enterprise, the boll weevil totally is the hero of an Alabama drama. In the early 20th century, Enterprise had an agricultural economy run by cotton, but then boll weevil infestations destroyed cotton crops across the southeast. I know this part of the story gives villain vibes for the boll weevil… But just wait. Farmers in Coffee County got together and figured out that to survive, they needed to pivot. And pivot they did! Coffee County became the leader in peanut production across the U.S. even as boll weevils spread destruction elsewhere. Today, Enterprise still honors the boll weevil. The statue in the town center has a plaque that 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.” Boll weevils are honored widely with mini sculptures and paintings hidden around town. It’s refreshing for a bug to finally get a good reputation
In the spirit of honoring fish, have you seen Manny the 12-foottall bass? Eufaula, known as the “Big Bass Capital of the World,” has not one, but two fish statues. Manny is named after William Thomas “Tom” Mann, who is credited for putting Eufaula on the fishing map. Manny’s namesake had a long and accomplished career, including hosting popular TV shows, qualifying for seven BASS Master Classics, and being named by the Alabama Tourism Department as one of “Alabama’s most unforgettable faces.” A 12- foot bass statue sure seems like the perfect way to honor this incredible man. Manny sits down the road from Leroy Brown, who, according to an earlier edition of Alabama Small Towns and Downtowns, was a fish caught by Mann and was known for having several girlfriends, who could jump through hoops and loved strawberry jellyworms (I want it to be clear I’m talking about the fish, not the man). You can see both works of art during your next visit to Eufaula. When Leroy Brown died, there was a funeral for the fish and the statue honoring him is a must-see site in downtown Eufaula. Manny the Bass | 404 E Broad St, Eufaula, AL
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