Backyard Garden Fun
By Bethany Champion
All day at the Expo, you can find backyard garden and beekeeper experts at the Flint River Fresh Backyard Garden. Walking in the exhibit, you’ll find expert beekeepers to your right giving demonstrations on using hive equipment and proper care of the colonies. On the other side, you’ll find seminars highlighting how to get started as a beekeeper. The experts share information such as what companies to order supplies from and how to set up your hive to be as successful as possible. Once you make your way through the barn, you’ll be immersed in the impressive backyard garden crops. Raised beds, sunflowers, cabbage, blueberries, and fruit trees are just a few of the plants that are planted and prospering, demonstrating proper care and upkeep of the plants. In the backyard, the SOWEGA Beekeepers Club is hosting a honey-tasting contest, open during all hours of the Expo for everyone to join in and cast their vote. The booth has six different types of honey from their club members who have donated farm fresh honey. Visitors taste each type, determine their favorite, and put a small honeybee in a container beside their favorite flavor. The ultimate goal is to see which honey is most liked by Expo visitors. If you’re looking for a hands-on activity to gain practical knowledge about backyard gardens and beekeeping, be sure to stop by the Flint River Fresh building!
Judge it or Drive it: Two FFA CDEs at Expo
By Emma Richwine
The State FFA Tractor Driving and Machinery Operations and Maintenance and Land Judging Career Development Events were held at the expo ground today. High school students competing in Tractor Driving are tested on their knowledge and skill when operating a tractor and other machinery. Taking third place was Cole Faust from Oglethorpe County. Second place went to Will Railey from Berrien County, and first place was awarded to Will Fountain from West Laurens.
Junior and Senior Land Judging teams competed to determine the soil characteristics and land capability classes by observing dug open areas of a field. Winners for the junior competition were Central Middle School in third place, second place was Pierce County Middle, and in first place was Mary Persons. For the senior division, Wheeler County took third, Berrien County took second, and Banks County took first. Banks County will go on to compete at the National Level next Fall.
By Layla Wallace
Each day at the Sunbelt Ag Expo, the UGA dairy exhibit hosts a milking competition for all to come and watch. Yesterday, Zippy Duvall, president of American Farm Bureau, was the reigning champion two times in a row. However, today, young students who are involved in FFA and 4-H got their chance to participate, since many students from all over Georgia were at the Expo for State CDEs/LDEs. Today’s competition attracted a rather large crowd, so the pressure was on. Two teams stepped up to the dairy cattle and each student grabbed a bucket to begin milking. The contest isn’t as simple as it sounds; there are techniques to milking dairy cattle that provide better results. However, that didn’t seem to stop the students from achieving their goals and students from Lee County High FFA ended up winning the competition. It was quite a heartwarming scene to witness, to see each student’s fellow FFA members and colleagues cheer them on during the competition. These students are all about working together as a team and being supportive even through competition and the Sunbelt Ag Expo is thrilled to have them at the expo this year. Tomorrow will be the last milking contest with the junior livestock exhibitors as the contestants.
FFA and 4H Members Take On Youth Educational Challenges
By Peyton Coursey
Over 800 FFA and 4H members competed this morning in the Youth Educational Challenges. There were several areas students could compete in: Animal Science, Wildlife and Forestry, Plant Science, Ag Mechanics, Ag Business, and Gauntlet, which was a little bit of everything. Each member completed a 20-question test, and 5 tie-breaker questions. Several members competed in these challenges to test their knowledge on these topics. Overall, Jasper County had the highest amount of participation, but many schools brought 20+ kids to compete. Jaden Maddison from Liberty County High School won the Senior Ag Business Competition and Tessa Dial from Ware County High School won the junior division. Andrew Phillips from Jefferson County won Senior Ag Mechanics and Brantley Braswell CAGray Jr. High was the junior winner. For Plant Science, Magdalena Christopher from Opelika High won the senior division and Tessa Dial won the junior division as well. For Animal Science, Loralye Irwin from Jasper County won the senior division, and Kaelyn Kinley from Burns Science and Technology Charter School took home the junior division win. For Forestry, Eason Farmer from Mary Persons High won the senior division and Cade Purvis from CAGray Jr. High won the junior competition. Lastly, for the Gauntlet there was a senior, junior, and teacher division. For the senior division, Ethan Stalvey of Golden Isles took home the win as well as the overall highest score in the Gauntlet competition. For the junior division, Shevy Sapp from Pierce Middle won. For the teacher category, Alyssa Maxwell from Alcovy got 1st place, Amanda Ellis from New Smyrna Beach Middle placed 2nd, and Amy Stavley from Golden Isle placed 3rd.
Hay Bale Throwing
By Shelby Wentz
One of the greatest events hosted at the Sunbelt Ag Expo is the Hay Bale Throwing Contest. Hay bale throwing is exactly what it sounds like. A hard, heavy contest. Multiple contestants, boys or girls, of any age, will sign up to throw hay bales in the street during the day. Guests of all ages and sizes gather around the road to spectate this event. This small event is sponsored by Massey Ferguson and Ag Co. Massey Ferguson, sets up a contestant sign-up list with their information including where the individuals are from. Contestants can use any technique they want to throw their haybale the farthest, as long their feet don’t cross the line. After each contestant throws their bale and it lands, Massey Ferguson employees will take a tape measure to measure the distance. The distance measured is from the front of the starting line to the farthest end of the hay bale thrown. Make sure to go check out the Massey Ferguson booth to see who won each round of the contest!
Georgia Young Farmers 31st Annual Que-Fest
By Phoebe Beard
The Georgia Young Farmers Association and the Sunbelt Ag Expo have a strong relationship with rich history that dates back to the 1980s. The Georgia Young Farmer program is the adult education aspect of the Georgia Agricultural Education program. The association hosts educational programs ranging from legislative issues related to agriculture to agricultural technology seminars.
To create friendly competition between 30 Young Farmer chapters across the state, the Que Fest was born. The competition’s sponsor is Kelley Manufacturing Company, and the grand prize is $1,200 cash and a trophy. Chapters that place from second to sixth will receive a cash award, and every participating chapter earns $100 for their effort. Every chapter in attendance is entered into a random drawing to win a Hayes LTI smoker, every chapter also receives a boston butt, donated by Striplings General Store. The teams will then have until 1:30 to add their unique touch and perfect the meat.
After 1:30, the boston butts are collected and taken to be judged. The plates are prepared by each chapter, so they have the opportunity to add signature sauce to accompany the meat. The judges for the meats are United States Air Force members, coming from Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga. This is a blind judging style competition and is ranked on a 10-point system. The guidelines for picking the top six placements are based on the appearance, tenderness, flavor, and overall impression of the boston butt. After the judging is complete, the pork is chopped up and will be served at the Young Farmer family night event.
Although the winner receives a trophy and a cash prize, this is a friendly competition where chapters throughout the state can reconnect with familiar faces, meet new members, and discuss the agriculture industry. Stay tuned to find out which Georgia Young Farmer chapter will bring home first place with their perfect pork, at the 31st Annual Que-Fest!