Lee Fairrow on his Montgomery County Farm City of Clarksville | Arts and Heritage Council

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – APSU’s College of Arts and Letters, alongside the Clarksville Arts and Heritage Council, are teaming up to educate the community on Montgomery County’s historical and economic ties to the tobacco crop.

Notably, the programs will not glorify smoking and the dangers that smoking contributes to, but will look at how the plant has added to Clarksville’s economy and earned the city the title of “Dark-fired Tobacco Capital of the World.”

The first of these events took place Monday Feb. 13, 2023, in Austin Peay’s Trahern Theatre with an in-depth segment titled “The Importance of Tobacco on Clarksville’s Development.”

The event was led by Carolyn Ferrell, historical author and fourth-generation Clarksvillian, and aimed to bring recognition to those involved in the tobacco trade and the use of various tobacco artifacts.

It will be followed next in the Trahern Theatre Tuesday Feb. 28, 2023 at 4 p.m. by David Alford, who will be presenting a one-man show of “Smoke: Abridged.”

Alford himself is a Juilliard-trained writer, actor, director, and teacher; “Smoke: Abridged” is a shortened form of a well-known play of his that tells about the tobacco wars of the early 1800s.

Following Alford’s performance, there will be an event March 28, 2023. This will see professional storyteller Dr. Rick Gregory sharing the story of the infamously violent “War in the Tobacco Black Patch.”

The next event in the series will take place April 25, 2023, and it will be led by English professor Dr. Linda Crenshaw of Austin Peay State University. Crenshaw will be discussing the correlation and between written media and the tobacco industry, as well as the overall presence of the tobacco crop in literature in a segment appropriately titled “Tobacco Tales: How Tobacco Appears in the Works of Local Writers.”

The series will then continue 4 p.m. Tuesday May 30, 2023 with Lee and Doris Fairrow at their Woodlawn farm. The couple will tell their own personal experiences and stories from a strong 63 years of tobacco farming in Tennessee.

Lastly, the program will wrap up at a to be determined time and date with Dr. Donald Sudbrink, professor and chair of the APSU Department of Agriculture, speculating on the future of the industry as a whole and within Montgomery County specifically.

All presentations will be free but given that there is limited seating, those wishing to attend are encouraged to make reservations through Eventbrite.

Sponsored by the Tennessee Arts Commission, the series hopes to provide both the university community and that of Clarksville with a unifying experience for everyone involved to learn about local heritage and recognize the arts and humanities departments of Austin Peay.