August 25, 2004 | By: Aimee Heald-Nielson

Wayne and Junior Doolin’s picturesque farm about 10 miles northwest of Lancaster was the site for the 23rd annual Garrard County Tobacco Cutting Contest. Some spectator’s hail it as the Olympics of tobacco. As with any “Olympic” sport, competitors need to be fit. This year, organizers decided to have a men’s health emphasis as part of the day’s festivities.

Mary Hixon, University of Kentucky Extension agent for family and consumer sciences in Garrard County, wanted to reach a usually hard-to-reach audience with important health information. So, she helped organize a health fair in one of the Doolin’s barns.

“This audience is so hard to reach because they usually work during the day and can’t take time out to come to a health fair,” she said. “By having it in conjunction with the tobacco cutting contest we were able to reach a lot of farmers and migrant workers who don’t usually go to the doctor unless they absolutely have to.”

The health fair offered information about heart and lung disease, diabetes, prostate cancer and much more. Visitors could get their blood pressure taken and lung capacity measured and even sign up to win a glucose monitor from the health department.

Hixon was pleased with the turnout and said even if visitors didn’t sit down and talk one-on-one with representatives, they will at least take some great health information home to read.
Whether it was the health fair, the free food or the chance to see someone new win the cutting competition, attendance was better than it has been in recent years.

Mike Carter, UK Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Garrard County, said he was pleased with the health fair and the attendance.

“Folks here take a lot of pride in tobacco,” he said. “It’s still a large part of our agriculture economy and our overall economy. We’re not trying to educate about tobacco production or marketing today. It’s strictly to have fun and enjoy the fellowship, to celebrate our heritage and the history and future of this commodity.”

Nine cutters lined up at the end of the same number of stick rows. Six-time winner, Allen “Peanut” Edgington had hopes of repeating his 2003 success. Forty-nine minutes later, 21-year-old Alvin Stamper of London, Ky. emerged the winner, barely beating Peanut. Stamper was named Rookie of the Year in the 2002 competition and then came in second in 2003. He was awarded $500 and a plaque. In all, nearly $1200 was awarded in prize money.

The event was sponsored by contributions from local businesses, financial institutions and area tobacco warehouses and was conducted by the Tobacco Advisory Committee of the UK/Garrard County Cooperative Extension Service. 


Writer: Aimee D. Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Source: Mike Carter 859-792-3026