For those who spend two days in June traveling the more than 100 miles of the 301 Endless Yard Sale from Weldon, to Rocky Mount, to Wilson, to Selma, and Dunn, the Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Kenly may have the treasure you have been searching for.
“A couple of thousand people come for each day of the sale, which this year will be on Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19,” said Melody Worthington, executive director of the museum. “We have about 30 vendors signed up including several of our artists that demonstrate regularly at the museum. We expect to have our broom maker, wood workers and basket makers at the event. Also, Sullivan Farms will be roasting corn and we will have hot dogs for sale.”
The museum proves to be a popular spot on Highway 301 to stop and browse. “We offer shade, parking, concessions and bathroom facilities,” Worthington said.
For the staff and volunteers at the museum a return to events is welcome. “The museum was closed for much of 2020 due to the pandemic,” Worthington said. “Many of our favorite events like our annual BBQ, the Endless Yardsale, Ag Camp and our Saturday Series of events had to be either moved to virtual or canceled. The museum saw about a 30 percent reduction in revenue due to losses from single day admission sales, group tours and gift shop sales. We are thankful that our sponsors and members followed through with their annual donations because their support made all the difference.”
During the Endless Yard Sale event the museum is open and it’s a great time to tour. The museum shows rural life in North Carolina from the 1880s through 1950s.
“We don’t focus on the rich and famous,” said Worthington. “We want to showcase the way the average rural North Carolinian lived during this time period and how it shaped the culture of the state that we call home.”
The Museum features a 6,000 square-foot gallery, traditional homestead, pack house, workshop, tobacco barn, one-room school house and smoke house.
The museum recently opened a new exhibit focused on soil and water conservation. It All Starts With the Land was a collaborative effort between the museum, the University of Mount Olive School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation. “The process of developing the exhibit began as a class project for soil science classes taught by Professor Kim Tungate at the University of Mount Olive in the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020. Students visited the museum, chose the key topics to be covered, did research, and drafted text. Museum staff then edited the text, added background on the history of conservation, and worked closely with graphic designers from the NCDA&CS’ Statistics Division to bring the students’ vision to life.”
A tour of the museum and outdoor buildings takes about an hour and a half. Admission is $8. Browsing the outdoor Endless Yard sale vendors is free and does not require admission to the museum.