"Cutting Time" by Betty Bullen is Heritage Fest collectible print

A field of tobacco with a tractor and a barn.

"Cutting Time," the 2021 Union County Heritage Festival collectible print by Betty Bullen

When the Union County Heritage Festival (UCHF) committee announced the theme for the 2021 Heritage Festival to be "Take A Country Road," my mind immediately went to what a one might have seen as he or she traveled down a country road in Union County some fifty-plus years ago. For sure, one would have seen a tobacco patch, or 'bakker patch' as it might have been called back then.

Tharps Harvest Last Crop of Tobacco in Union County

James and Lora Tharp with their last crop of tobacco hanging to cure in the family barn in Luttrell, Tennessee

Tobacco once was a way of life and a tradition. It is where people came from and how they grew up. A lot of hard work and pride went into the crop, but over the years it has become a dying tradition for many reasons, with little remaining in East Tennessee.