First-generation farmer wins Commissioner’s Award in 2021 Heritage Tobacco Competition

Brent Leggett and his family

From a tobacco-tying competition, barn curing, a heritage tobacco harvest competition and a mock tobacco auction, the legacy of tobacco and its contributions to the state of North Carolina and the agricultural industry is on full display at Heritage Circle at the N.C. State Fair.

The Heritage Tobacco Harvest Competition was started in 2015 to recognize individuals growing tobacco. Entries and winners are on view in the Tobacco Pavilion in Heritage Circle. Growers from North Carolina submit silver-dollar-sized hand ties of flue-cured tobacco to compete in different stalk position classes.

Brent Leggett, a first-generation farmer from Nashville, was awarded the Commissioner’s Award and $500 for his tobacco. “Hands down Brent’s entry in the tips category was the best,” said Stan Biconish, superintendent of the tobacco heritage competition. “From superior leaf texture to the quality of the leaf and it’s maturity, his tobacco was a standout. “

“I am so proud of Brent and his contributions to agriculture,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “As a tobacco farmer, I recognize the role that the crop has played in shaping agriculture in our state. Which is why at the State Fair we show the tobacco stringing, the tobacco barn curing during the week, and the hand ties as part of our Tobacco Heritage Competition.”

Leggett has been in and around tobacco since the age of 13 when he would help a neighbor’s farm put in and take out the tobacco in the barns. He now operates his own diversified tobacco farm, growing sweet potatoes, tobacco, cotton, peanuts, soybeans and strawberries.

Hand ties of tobacco are not something that are commonly used today when most tobacco is bought on contract and tobacco auctions are no longer a traditional way to sell your tobacco. Hand ties were a method of displaying your tobacco when farmers would sell their tobacco in smaller piles seperate by grade . Each pile had a hand tie placed on top of the basket to show the quality of the leaf.

The categories of the competition include:

  • Tips – the upper most leaves on a flue-cured plant
  • Leaf – the second group of leaves from the top
  • Cutters – the largest leaves on a tobacco plant
  • Lugs – the second group of leaves from the ground
  • Whole Stalk – one hand from each stalk position
  • Organic

Other winners in the Heritage Tobacco Competition:


  • 1st Place: John Barham, Rolesville
  • 2nd Place: Danny Williams, Oxford
  • 3rd Place: TNT Farms, Spring Hope


  • 1st Place: Ray Hurtado, Rolesville
  • 2nd Place: Crews Bros. Farm, Oxford
  • 3rd Place: Crews Bros. Farm, Oxford


  • 1st Place: Clay Hinnant, Kenly
  • 2nd Place: TNT Farms, Spring Hope
  • 3rd Place: Thomas Shaw, Henderson


  • 1st Place: Brent Leggett, Nashville
  • 2nd Place: TNT Fars, Spring Hope
  • 3rd Place: Clay Hinnant, Kenly

Whole Stalk:

  • 1st Place: Bruce Whitfield, Hurdle Mills
  • 2nd Place: Bruce Whitfield, Hurdle Mills
  • 3rd Place: Bruce Whitfield, Hurdle Mills


  • 1st Place: Alex Watkins, Creedmore
  • 2nd Place: Alex Watkins, Creedmore
  • 3rd Place: Alex Watkins, Creedmore

The Heritage Tobacco Harvest Competition is sponsored by the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina.

About Funhouse

On the blog I go by Fun House (AKA Heather Overton). At the Fair you'll find me checking out the blue ribbon winners or hanging out in Heritage Circle. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite part of the Fair, but I can tell you one thing I hate - leaving it on the last day. I can't wait for opening day!

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