NICHOLLS, Ga. -- Felder Carver, 76, nodded yesterday as his
7-year-old grandson Jason tied a string around two 3-foot
tobacco leaves and hung them on a pole for drying.
Carver, who grew up harvesting and tying tobacco near Cairo for
5 cents a day, watched with pride as Jason tied a perfect knot
around the green leaves in his very first try.
"I started about this age," Carver said. "I hope he might get
into it some day."
The Carvers and about 100 other people gathered at General
Coffee State Park in Coffee County yesterday for the "Tobacco
Sunday" festival. The third annual event celebrated the history
of tobacco farming in southern Georgia. Kids participated in
The irony of encouraging kids to harvest a plant that will
become cigarettes and chewing tobacco, products they are
restricted from using, was not lost on the event's organizer.
Park ranger Eda Kenney said she also is aware some people might
question the timing of the festival, held at a time when tobacco
companies are being sued by the federal government and the
families of people whose relatives claim they died from smoking.
Kenney, director of programming at the park, said the festival
teaches children and adults how hard their ancestors had to work
and how important tobacco was to their survival.
"I'm not pushing tobacco," Kenney said. "But I do recognize and
respect what it has meant historically."
Tobacco is a cash crop that is as important to the economy of
southern Georgia as oranges and tourism are to the economy of
Georgia farmers who lived off their vegetable crops earlier
this century sold tobacco and cotton to get money to buy clothes
and other necessities, Kenney said.
Tobacco remains a critical cash crop today, said Clyde
Kirkland, who lives on …