Sellin’ ‘backer’

Yesterday at the State Fair, there was a mock tobacco auction. Today, tobacco auctions are extinct, replaced by contracts with tobacco companies. But for more than 150 years, they were THE way N.C. farmers marketed their cured leaf.

Retired auctioneers, buyers and warehousemen staged the mock auction in the Expo Center. Today’s fast-talking ad men, the guys who fly through the fine print at the end of those car ads on the radio, have nothing on these auctioneers. They are colorful, lyrical even, and, yes, fast.

A crowd of about 50 people gathered to watch these old pros demonstrate how auctions worked. The sacks of tobacco were laid out on the floor. The auctioneer, buyers and warehousemen walked down the line, pausing at each sack while the auctioneer chanted the price. The buyers gestured to indicate they were willing to pay the announced price.

Our thanks to Billy Yeargin, Dale Coats and Duke Homestead Historic Site for coordinating the mock auction.

About Flying Bob

Most folks know me as Brian Long, but when it comes to the State Fair blog, I'm Flying Bob. Why Flying Bob? It's one of my favorite carnival rides. Plus, once the fair kicks off, I feel like I'm flying in circles at high speed. (All that's missing is a ride attendant shouting, "Do you wanna go fasterrrrr!") Here at the State Fair Press Office, it's our job to give you as much information about this massive event as possible. That's one of the reasons I enjoy contributing to this blog. I hope you'll enjoy reading it.

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