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History in the Village

South Boston News / May 12, 2014
The 25th anniversary celebration of the Historic Noland Village Country Fair Day made some history of its own Saturday.

Blessed with sunny skies — until storms moved in after 2 p.m. — this year’s Noland Village Country Fair Day drew a record crowd to the northeastern part of the county, amid rolling countryside where few people live. For one day, however, Noland Village was home to thousands of people — many who drove long distances to enjoy the food, fellowship and fun for all ages.

“I know that Roy (Blanks, the originator of the event) would have been pleased to see all the folks who were here on Saturday,” said his daughter, Carolyn Blanks Slayton.

It all started 25 years ago when Roy Blanks began work to recreate the little village that had surrounded the historic Halifax Church, the one-story, single-room structure that stands as a testament to the colonial-era austerity of early Presbyterians who met at Halifax Courthouse in June of 1830 to organize a church.

To recreate Noland Village, Blanks first restored an 18th century tavern, then followed with the reconstruction of a 1732 farmhouse, Afton. Later phases saw the relocation of the Robert and John Carr houses, which had once been a part of the historic village. The old country store — which became a post office and was moved from Lennig during World War I — was also returned to its original location. Blanks rebuilt the log building next door to the post office, known as the Baldwin House, as well as a large prize barn called the Hatcher Barn. Blanks’ last addition was the Blanks-Irby House, which also came from the Lennig area.

On Saturday, 30 festival vendors showed off their wares; among them was Conner’s Greenhouses, which offered a wide variety of popular plants. A purse maker from Williamsburg was so pleased with her sales that she announced she will be returning for next year’s event.

Members of the local Tinker’s Car Club, the Model A Club and the MG Club of Danville joined other antique car enthusiasts — some from the Richmond Z Club — to fill a large field with hundreds of classic and vintage vehicles. The antique machinery displays also were popular with the crowds — with the old hit and miss engine and the quarter scale tractors.

Visitors enjoyed the opportunity to stroll through the restored tavern, the Prospect Ordinary that dates back to 1789; the Robert Carr House built in 1840; and the restored Lacks Store which doubled as the Noland Post Office, built in the 1890s.

Slayton explained that the primary purpose of the event is to raise funds for the preservation of the old Halifax Church, the oldest Presbyterian church in Halifax County.

“We spent a lot of money last year working on the roof of the church, as well as replacing some of the weather boarding,” she said.

With this year’s proceeds, organizers are hoping to build up money for the ongoing maintenance of the historic old structures.

Butch Blanks, another of the day’s organizers, said the Blanks family is grateful to the 25 donors who made contributions to Noland Village, along with the vendors, who worked hard to make the day a success.

Community support, said Blanks, has been very important in sustaining the historic old village.

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