Past Times

Sandhills Fair at Pinehurst was strictly agricultural

The Sandhills fair at Pinehurst, seen in a photo taken around 1928, was characterized by an emphasis on livestock.
The Sandhills fair at Pinehurst, seen in a photo taken around 1928, was characterized by an emphasis on livestock. North Carolina County Photographic Collection, North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill

It’s county fair season across North Carolina, all leading up to the State Fair in Raleigh. With fewer farms across the state, there is less emphasis on agriculture at the fair, but from 1915 into the 1920s, the Sandhills Fair in Pinehurst was proud of its agricultural roots.

The Sandhills fair at Pinehurst should show North Carolina some things about an agricultural fair, and if among these can be realized the fact that a really rural fair, pertaining wholly to rural matters, can be made an emphatic success, possibly we would be farther on the road toward successful farming.

Pinehurst is a little country village of less than a thousand souls, counting the resident population, and in a county of about twenty thousand. Yet here a fair is carried on that runs several days of the week, and which in one single day shows an admission of over ten thousand people, or almost half as many as the whole population of the county. And that attendance is not brought out by any midway shows, any fakirs, questionable schemes to get money, or any of those things that are thought to be features essential to the success of other fairs.

Pinehurst indicates that those things that do not pertain to the farm are not necessary to a farm fair. But instead of them the Sandhills fair provided other things that are of the farm. The school children in a pageant that had been studied and adapted for its purpose, the elaboration of farm and farm home products on exhibition, the attention to the industrial possibilities of the county, and particularly the emphasis placed on the livestock make the Pinehurst fair a little different.

Possibly the chief lesson that North Carolina can learn from the Pinehurst fair is that which is presented in the display of Berkshire hogs and Ayrshire cattle.… Pinehurst, North Carolina, is known to the Berkshire men of all the United States, and the Ayrshire cattle men of the whole country.

Pinehurst is gradually bringing North Carolina as a State into prominence as a Berkshire hog State, and no other place in the States is so forcefully associated with any other type of hogs as Pinehurst is with Berkshires. The Sandhills country is fast going over to Berkshires, and where twenty years ago you could hardly find any hog but razor backs you will have to hunt with a fine tooth comb to find a razor back. That joke has about been wiped off the earth as far as the earth is included in the Sandhill country.…

Now think for a minute of this Sandhills fair, and its influences.… Pinehurst and the Sandhills Fair are gradually establishing the Berkshire hog in central North Carolina, and when it is done the work will be of the greatest value. And why? Because the hog is the meat animal of the days that are ahead of us. A hog can go into the barrel without going through a winter. It is the quickest animal of the farm to mature into a considerable amount of meat at a moderate cost. China long ago learned that a populous nation must look to the hog for its meat. We in this country have regarded the beef steer as the meat supply, but we are learning now that an animal that must be carried through two or three winters and fed all that time makes meat far too slowly and at too great cost to feed the increasing multitude. Twenty years ago we had about five beef cattle for nine people in this country. Now we have four for eleven people. Our population has increased about twenty-five millions, but our cattle have decreased nearly ten millions. We are running out of beef. We will never catch up again. Therefore the hog is the meat animal of the immediate future.

If Pinehurst can make North Carolina a recognized Berkshire state that will be one big job to the credit of this Moore county village. If the Sandhills fair can waken the country fairs of the state to the wisdom of having one or two clear cut aims and working those aims out to the general good of the community or the State, those fairs will be far more effective than if they exist merely as a field for the sideshow aggregations that constitute too much of too many of the country fairs.…

That this kind of fair is practical is shown by the crowds that were in Pinehurst during the continuance of this fair with a serious purpose. The Sandhills fair is not a fair to attract a crowd to town to buy things or to see the sideshows. It is a fair having for its object the betterment of farm life in the community. The N&O Nov. 28, 1921

Note: Several readers pointed out that the Forest Drive-In featured last week was originally located at U.S. 1 and Louisburg Road, one mile from the city limit at the time and about where the Beltline now intersects with Capital Boulevard.

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