Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Tobacco at the Maryland State Fair
One thing that I always enjoy at the Maryland State Fair is seeing the many different varieties of things that people grow in our state. There are heirloom watermelons such as Moon and Stars ( a personal favorite), nuts such as walnuts and pecans, grains, and hay. One thing I always seeing on display are the tobacco hands, such as this one, which one a blue ribbon. I hate smoking and the tobacco industry, but I do like this because it hints at local history.
Currently tobacco farming on Maryland is on the wane, but it was once a big industry. During Colonial times tobacco was a big moneymaker. At first, workers were brought over from England but over the years African Americans took over this work. It takes a lot of work to harvest a field of tobacco. The local tobacco industry suffered after the Civil War, was revived during World War I, and then waned again. Now, many Maryland tobacco farmers have given up the crop in favor of other, more profitable things like vegetables. To see a recreation of a Colonial tobacco plantation, consider visiting the Spray Tobacco Plantation in St. Mary’s City, Maryland.