My friend June and I had talked about seeing and photographing the old tobacco barns but didn’t really want to try to drive and find them, find somewhere to park and only be able to shoot from the road. It was placed on the back burner.
I get several North Carolina magazines that I like. My two favs are WNC Magazine, who not only has a wonderful magazine, they used one of my photos on the cover back in Feb 2016 and Our State which is for all of NC. Our State had an article titled The Tobacco Barns of Madison County, where I learned of Taylor Barnhill and that they offered tours.
Wouldn’t shooting for a local magazine be a terrific job for me? I think so! Well except for people portraits. I could photograph the area and have a blast seeing and capturing it all. Win Win.
They do have a $40 tour that goes to 2 or 3 barns in apx 3 hours. I wanted to see way more than that with a little less history on-site and more photography. Now, don’t get me wrong the history was interesting. I probably won’t retain 1% but I did learn there were over 19,000 barns in the area. Well, so much for seeing them all. I wish we would’ve counted every barn we passed! That would’ve been a fun car game.
I contacted Appalachian Barn Alliance (ABA) and talked to Sandy. She put me in touch with Taylor Barnhill who quoted us a price, if I could get at least 6 but not more than 12 to sign up. I thought if we packed out a van for a tour it would cost less than the open tour dates but then again I wanted to shoot all day. We ended up getting of the van at 9 barns, 1 cemetery and 1 elaborate house. I ended up with over 200 photos so I made a video with 151 of em.
Even though it was way more than I’d normally spend, I started inviting my photog girlfriends. Really disappointing, June couldn’t go. 😦 Not sure how many I ended up inviting. I started with the gals that don’t have a photography spouse. Lots of “interested” but I needed hard “Yes” or “No”, and we needed to send in the money, by check, ahead of time. Some didn’t respond to the emails, some couldn’t go, but 8 said yes. We had wonderful temperatures and no rain. In fact, if I’m being totally picky, we could’ve used some fluffy clouds in the pure blue sky. I would like to thank Allison, Bonnie, Diane, Joanie, Judy, Karen, and Shirley for being part of the 6 that made the tour possible.
We opted to meet at 8am in Weaverville since they rent the van and couldn’t meet before that and I wanted to shoot till shortly after dark. I brought my tripod for some long exposure shots after the sunset.
Taylor had mapped out a day and we hit the road in a roomy van with big windows. It was chilly and there was frost on the ground. Adjusting the heat for 8 women and 1 guy was just as hard as you think it would be. Thankfully most of us had on layers. I was really happy to see Taylor had a headset so everyone could hear him. I know how much my mom who is hard of hearing, hates it when she misses out on what is being said.
I love spending time with my friends and photographing new things. Lots of the people in the camera club had been on photography workshops but most of us have been photographing for years and although I think I can always learn something new, that is not what I was looking for on this tour. We pretty much all did our own thing at each barn. Taylor mentioned how quiet we all got and how quickly we spread out. We mostly started from farthest away for our wide shots and to stay out of each other’s shots then moved in. Joani said we probably looked like zombies, slowly methodically waking in on each barn. 🙂
I had no idea there were so many barn types, or tobacco types or how many are falling in since NC is no longer a major tobacco producer. I’m not sure officially but I know we are known for our apples but I’m guessing breweries are increasing the quickest. I just read we have a state cookie too. It’s one I’ve never heard of or tried and here I thought states just had a state bird (cardinal) and flower (dogwood). We passed a bull on the side of the road. Taylor told us that the black curly hair on its face is where the term Bull Face tobacco came from, that turned in to Bull Durham when Raleigh/Durham became involved. Or that was the gist of it anyway. I learned you used to be able to purchase a machine from Sears and Roebuck to make your own blocks for building. We also heard a song about death and another about the doodlebug sang to us. I thought the mounds of dirt were from the rain, and before that day I thought doodlebug was just another name for a Volkswagon. #neverstoplearning
I kinda hoped we’d see more barns that you couldn’t see from the road on your own driving tour and I would’ve been happy to keep going but I think most of the gals had their fill. I liked that we could get out, and go on people’s property and in most of the barns. Even though we did see several that we could view from the outside from the road, we couldn’t just walk in them without the barn alliance.
The stories and history that Taylor holds in his head are amazing. He is quite the entrepreneur. He does the barn tours, is thinking about adding old country stores, or graveyards to the tours. He is authoring a book about fireflies. He had a camera in hand too. In fact here’s one he took of our group.
He also had an idea for urn pottery thing using your loved one’s ashes. He mentioned the Shelton Laurel massacre that everyone seemed to have heard of but me. Taylor offered to stop at a graveyard and the majority wanted to, so we did. Some headstones were so old they had no legible lettering left.
I know it was a larger than normal expenditure for me. I’d like to thank my hubby for saying if I wanted to go do it, that I should. We can count it as an early Christmas! I’m glad I did and I had a wonderful day. I hope I got them all named correctly.
If you enjoyed this post, my cover design or photography -please share. If you’d like to follow my blog, (which includes pet food recalls) and get an email when I post, just click on the “follow” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the page or on the homepage. You enter your email address, and you’ll receive an email confirmation in return. I do NOT share email addresses. To learn more about my book cover design, photography or the books I’ve authored— my first homepage on this site has all the links.