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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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From a cigarette ad, c. 1937
Cigarette advertisement, c. 1937 Courtesy: South Boston-Halifax County Museum

The National Tobacco Festival

Tobacco has been a major staple of the economy of Halifax County and the state of Virginia since 1700. Originating in 1935 in the small town of South Boston, the National Tobacco Festival was conceived by two local businessmen as a way to promote the superior quality of the local leaf. The first festival queen was Miss Westwood Byrd, daughter of U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd. The three-day festival featured pageants, parades, beauty queens, band competitions, clogging and fiddling contests, and Hollywood stunt men performing daring feats. Believing that it had outgrown the small town of South Boston, its organizers held the last festival in South Boston in 1941, the next year moving it to Richmond. Project documentation includes photographs, a report describing the history and significance of the festival, original festival programs, a pageant script, newspaper clippings, and a videotape, Tobacco Festivals, 1935-1941, assembled from old 16 mm film clips.

Originally submitted by: Virgil Goode, Jr., Representative (5th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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