The Village of Yesteryear Transports Fairgoers Back in Time


S. Phillips

Woodworker Keith Hartman’s toy store, Quality Woodcrafts, has been a key part of the Village for years. One favorite that Hartman often shows off is the “Jacob’s Ladder,” an optical illusion that entertains both children and parents.

Sydney Phillips, Staff Reporter

Each year, among the food and rides at the North Carolina State Fair, there is an exhibit that appears without fail: The Village of Yesteryear. While many fairgoers overlook this exhibit, far more interested in the nearby popcorn, ice cream, and apple cider, this is  an integral part of the fair experience, and no trip is complete without visiting.

  Located in the circular Holhouser Building on the NC State fairgrounds, this exhibit is run by the Village of Yesteryear, an organization dedicated to continuing craft makers skills and traditions that have been passed down for generations. The organization, made up of around 100 members, has people from all walks of life including weavers, bakers, steel workers, glassblowers, and leather workers. 

  Every year, many of these craftsmen gather together, both to showcase their talents and their methods, as well as offer the public a chance to make their own handiwork. Thousands of people walk the floor of the circular building to marvel at the many creations on display. Eager to answer questions, these craftsmen stand behind their stalls and offer information about how they got into their trade as well as the process behind. This might mean a quick lesson in glassblowing or an explanation on how an intricate piece of fabric was woven.

  At Millbrook, those who are interested in the arts as well as history often make this exhibit part of their go-to while at the fair. The Village is a welcoming break from the crowds outside, offering fairgoers an opportunity to relax, and eat fair food while looking at the dozens of exhibits.

  Those who went to the fair this year might have noticed that the Village was emptier than usual. That is because many regular exhibits opted not to attend the fair this year. While this is an unfortunate consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, there were still many familiar faces.

  One such example being Quality Woodcrafts, a wooden toy exhibit that has been at the fair each year for as long as many students can remember. Sophomore Mia Newkirk says, “I love going to the village with my mom. We normally get one of the foods on sale or one of the bags that [the vendors] sell.” The Village of Yesteryear is an integral part of the North Carolina State Fair experience, and each year allows thousands of people to be transported back in time.

  In order to learn and appreciate the handicraft and skill of our history that these craftsmen have taken upon themselves to keep alive for future generations to appreciate. Those who missed the village this year should be sure to keep it in mind for next year’s fair. Those who attend should possibly consider visiting one of their shops that are located throughout North Carolina. The Village represents just a small portion of history and offers it to everyone willing to find it.