Tying is a lost art in the tobacco industry.
When automatic tying machines were introduced 50-60 years ago, stringing tobacco to sticks by hand – tying as they called it – was phased out.
But it’s not a forgotten skill – you can still find people in the Norfolk-Oxford-Elgin area who remember hand tying, and some of them still compete at the Langton Fair. This year four teams vied for the fair’s 2018 Tobacco Tying title on Sept. 19, sponsored by Norfolk Tobacco Leaf Company.
Each team of three – two leaf handers and one to tie – was timed for two sticks of tobacco, tying 26 bunches of three leaves each per stick (which rested on a ‘horse’), which ‘back in the day’ would have been hung in kilns.
Jeanet Barrett, tying, with handers Annie Van Louwe and Margaret Andries was first to be timed, placing second overall at one minute and 10 seconds (1:10). It was a repeat of the last several years as the team was runner-up to Anita Geysens, Rosann Smith and Jean Donck.