RALEIGH N.C. — The N.C. State Fair is wrapping up this weekend, but not before the completion of one of the oldest North Carolina traditions. 

The art of tobacco tying has been passed down for generations, but only a few still have it mastered.


What You Need To Know

Tobacco is still one of North Carolina's largest cash crops

As technology improved, the need for "tobacco tiers" dwindled

North Carolinians from around the state drove to the State Fair to participate in the tobacco-tying competition


James Lawson first learned as a young kid on his family's North Carolina tobacco farm.

“About all my life I’ve been around it,” Lawson said.

As technology has improved, machines have taken over the act of hand tying. But every year, the tradition is brought back to life at the North Carolina State Fair.

In the tobacco-tying competition, “handers” give three stocks of tobacco to a “tier,” and the tier loops as many as they can on a stick.

“I’m a hander. I can't tie, though. Never learned,” said Matthew Lawson, James Lawson's son.

“Tobacco is still our No. 1 cash crop in North Carolina," said Pat Short with N.C. Agriculture. "It has been for many years. It built the churches, schools, ballfields and everything in rural North Carolina."