THIS YEAR’S EXPO FEATURED AG TECHNOLOGY, INNOVATION, AND EDUCATION
The Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition celebrated its 41st Anniversary show October 16-18, 2018. Over 1,200 exhibitors displayed and demonstrated products and welcomed thousands of visitors to the 100-acre show site and the 600-acre research farm. Despite the onslaught of Hurricane Michael less than a week before show opening, the majority of vendors report having a very productive show, boasting record sales to Expo visitors.
Crowned as North America’s Premier Farm Show ® and the largest Farm Show in America with field demonstrations, the Sunbelt Ag Expo brings together all segments of agribusiness including farmers, educators, policy-makers, ag-enthusiasts and families. All attending the show were able to see the latest innovation and technology that the agriculture industry currently has to offer.
The show kicked off with the opening ceremony for the 41st Annual Expo featuring greetings from American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. In addition, winners in the Southeastern Hay Contest, sponsored by Massey Ferguson, were recognized and ribbon cuttings were held for Agri-Supply Company and Trinity Trailer for their continued support of the Expo. Kentucky was recognized as the 2018 Spotlight State. A new Sunbelt Ag Expo logo was unveiled to be used as preparations begin for the 2019 Expo. Tuesday’s main event was the Willie B. Withers Luncheon. Luncheon highlights included remarks from Vice President Mike Pence and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. Vice President Pence, in a surprise visit, pledged the “full support of the Administration, USDA and Congress to bring Southwest Georgia and the Sunbelt region back and make it better than before,” on his way to tour the area ravaged by Hurricane Michael. The main focus of the event was to honor the Swisher Sweets Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. Kevin Yon of South Carolina was selected for this prestigious award.
The week continued with the annual Cow Milking Contest – Florida once again came away with the coveted prize. New this year, the Expo featured Youth Educational Challenges, sponsored by Country Financial, for 6th-12th graders as a competitive and fun opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge in six different content areas. Georgia FFA Foundation hosted its Annual Tire Auction sponsored by Titan/Goodyear and raised over $27,000 for the organization. Georgia Young Farmer held Q’Fest and its annual membership supper.
Education is the key component of the show with over 300 seminars and demonstrations offered over the 3-day event. These seminars and demonstrations were taught by university specialists and industry leaders in exhibit areas for beef, dairy, poultry, forestry, catfish, pond management, and equine. Additionally, Julie Goodnight, a clinician featured on RFD-TV, joined the equine team and worked with 4-H students involved with horse projects. Education sponsors include 21 major universities and colleges with six of these having permanent exhibit buildings on-site.
The Hoss Tools Sustainable Living Center was another stop for visitors to learn about specialty gardening. A crowd pleaser was the 600-acre research farm’s field demonstrations. These demos showcased harvesting and tillage equipment for cotton, peanuts, soybeans and hay. Featured demos included the focus on Blue River’s See and Spray Technology, a robotic spray system that is trained to recognize weeds; therefore, reducing chemical output by over 90 percent. Other features during the 3-day show included the daily, rolling Antique Tractor Parade, the American Grand Finals Stock Dog Trials (the largest field of competition in recent Expo history), rural lifestyle fun, and truck, tractor and ATV test drives.
An outdoor show of this size and caliber takes over a year of planning by staff members and its Executive Board. Prior to the show, the Board elected a new member, Clay Talton, to fill an open seat. Talton works with Georgia Farm Bureau as the Associate Director of Field Services The department assists County Farm Bureaus with staff development and volunteer and leadership development and oversees the Young Farmer and Rancher program, Women’s Leadership program, Agriculture in the Classroom, Certified Farm Market program and the Georgia Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. “It is an honor to be a part of North America’s Premier Farm Show,” says Talton. “As technology progresses and becomes a vital part of agriculture operations, it is important that we offer the best educational resources and exhibits as farmers seek to gain knowledge to make informed decisions. Seminars and farm demonstrations are what sets this expo apart from others, and it is important we continue to build and expand on those opportunities.”
Preparations are already underway for the 2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo to be held in Moultrie, GA October 15-17. Join us for mainstay events, new features, educational seminars and demonstrations, technology releases, as well as the highlight of North Carolina as the 2019 Spotlight State.
Contact: Becca Turner