History of Century Farm Families

In 1970, the North Carolina State Fair undertook the largest agricultural project in the fair’s history. To highlight the theme of its 1970 State Fair, "Salute to Agriculture," State Fair officials initiated a search for all families who have owned or operated a farm in North Carolina for 100 years or more. More than 800 farms qualified as a Century Farm.

Century Farm families were honored at a luncheon held in Dorton Arena at the 1970 N. C. State Fair. Agriculture Commissioner, Jim Graham, emceed the event and Lt. Governor Pat Taylor was the featured speaker. The Commissioner congratulated the families for their contributions to North Carolina. "The strength and depth of North Carolina lies with you people who have held the family farm together. You are the fountain head of our economy."

In 1975, Century Farm families were honored again at a luncheon held in the Kerr Scott building. The late comedian Jerry Clower provided entertainment. More than 750 Century Farm families attended the event. Thus began the tradition of periodically honoring Century Farm Families during the State Fair.

Century Farms continue to be recognized in North Carolina. In 1988, a commemorative book, North Carolina Century Farms: 100 Years of Continuous Agricultural Heritage, was published. This book provided a history of century farms in North Carolina. Every Century Farm family received a copy. View an electronic version of the book.

Today, there are about 46,000 farms in North Carolina, but only a little more than 1,800 have the distinct honor of being a N.C. Century Farm. North Carolina has a rich agricultural heritage and the Century Farm family program celebrates the many contributions farming has made to the state.

In 2016, Commissioner Troxler announced that the department would begin awarding Bicentennial Farm certificates to families who have had a farm in the family for more than 200 years. To receive a bicentennial certificate, the family must submit an application.

In 2020 the Century Farm Program celebrated 50 years since it's creation. The reunion was postponed due to the Covid pandemic. Commissioner Troxler released a video message to members. The reunion was held in 2021. The Chatham Rabbits performed to about 2,000 people at the Hunt Horse Complex during the N.C. State Fair.

The next reunion is slated for the 2024 N.C. State Fair. 

Occasionally we highlight individual Century Farm Families on our In the Field Blog. Check them out at spotlight on Century Farms link: https://blog.ncagr.gov/category/century-farm-family-program/