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Back in the Day: Tobacco festival opens

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The 10th annual Southern Flue-cured Tobacco Festival opened Nov. 17, 1987 in Greenville. Getting a look at a modern grain dryer are Johnathan Frizzelle, his brother, Justin, and their grandfather, Harvey Stallings of Ayden.

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The Daily Reflector

Saturday, November 11, 2017

It was an evening of remembering the past honoring the present and affirming the future as agricultural and community leaders met on Nov. 16, 1987, to salute the tobacco industry.

The Southern Flue-cured Tobacco Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary, announced the 1987 Tobacco Farmer of the Year at a reception and awards banquet held at the Sheraton Greenville.

Arthur F. Woodard III won the annual award at the banquest, which also included an opening speech by Jim Graham, North Carolina agriculture commissioner, and an auction of tobacco bundles from the festival's most perfect bundle contest.

Approximately 100 people were present to recognize one of North Carolina's oldest and economically important industries.

Graham gave his impressions of the 1987 tobacco farming year. He said 1987 has ended up being a good tobacco year, considering a start that was plagued with drought and cold weather.

“This year will be a good profitable year when the total figures are in,” Graham said. “I'm pleased to see that at the end of the year and tobacco grower should have some money left over in his pocket after two or three bad years. I feel good and encouraged about it.”

Graham told tobacco industry leaders that while North Carolina is a very diversified state, the significance of the tobacco industry in the state could not be under emphasized.

“While eastern North Carolina has shown tremendous growth in education recreational facilities in rural development and highways, you can always go back to that number one commodity in North Carolina — tobacco,” he said.

Concerning the future of the industry Graham said he felt optimistic.

“I feel better about tobacco than I have felt in 6 to 8 years I think we are turning this program around in the right direction,” he said.

Graham briefly addressed problems which threatened the tobacco industry including a proposed ban on cigarette advertising and increase in cigarette taxes and restrictions on public smoking.

“We must continue to work together to keep their problems and tactics of the anti-tobacco forces at a minimum.” he said. “I will not must not and shall not let any anti-tobacco forces dominate the scene as long as I’m your commissioner of agriculture.”

Back in the Day is a weekly feature compiled from The Daily Reflector’s archives.

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