Over the past thirty-one years, the Swisher/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award program has honored excellence across Southern agriculture’s diverse landscape. Farmers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia are eligible for the award. State winners are selected by representatives of sponsoring organizations in each state. On Tuesday at the Willie B. Withers Luncheon, the Swisher/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year will be announced. This year’s overall winner will receive a $17,500 cash award and expense paid trip to the event from Swisher. Other prizes include the use of a Massey Ferguson product for a year from Massey Ferguson North America, a Columbia jacket and vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply, a smoker-grill from Hays LTI and a Henry Repeating Arms American Farmer Tribute edition .22 rifle from Reinke Irrigation. Syngenta will provide a $1,000 donation to the charity of choice for the overall winner.

The Sunbelt Ag Expo is proud to have Virginia as the 2021 Spotlight State. Along with this honor, Spotlight State status comes with the responsibility of a building near the center of the Sunbelt Ag Expo’s grounds where they showcase all the wonderful attributes that make up their state’s agricultural industry. Virginia, one of the 13 original colonies, is steeped in both history and immense natural beauty. Today, agriculture and forestry form Virginia’s largest industry. Virginia’s ag production is one of the most diverse in the nation. In celebration of the Sunbelt Ag Expo and its 2021 Spotlight State, join us to experience Virginia agriculture…where it all began!

Georgia Grown has been coming to the Sunbelt Ag Expo for years to tell expo-goers about their wonderful program. For the second year, Georgia Grown products will be showcased like never before. In the Georgia Grown Marketplace housed in the Family Living Building, attendees are sure to get a taste of the many wonderful products the state has to offer. From jellies to bedsheets, this corner of the expo has so much to offer. With Georgia Grown products located in one area, expo-goers can easily get a better taste of Georgia and learn about many local producers.

Our Backyard Garden at the Expo hosts exhibitors that are eager to teach attendees growing their own food. Flint River Fresh partners with the show to bring a space for backyard gardeners and small-scale farmers to learn ways to grow food for their communities. The hope is this information will be easily passed on by those who can attend. A few things that will be taught in the demonstration garden will include drip irrigation, equipment, container gardening and weed control. These discussions will be supported by hands-on learning experiences in the garden. Fruit trees, vegetables and so much more can be found in the Flint River Fresh Backyard Garden

The Sunbelt Ag Expo is proud to host professionals in the equine industry including Bill Kaven of the National Snaffle Bit Association and Trick Rider Analise Granger. The Sunbelt Ag Expo is not horsing around this year. When it comes to putting on a show, the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Equine and the Sunbelt Ag Expo know how to reign in the celebrities. Be sure to visit the demonstrations and the Sunbelt Expo Rodeo Queens and Princesses.

With a continuously evolving agriculture industry, we like to incorporate a little something for everyone, including our future farmers. On Wednesday, October 20, Country Financial will sponsor the Youth Educational Challenges for students in 6th – 12th grade. In addition, a new contest, Advocacy in Action hosted by Georgia Farm Bureau, will hold its final round of competition. Farm Credit will feature an Ag Mechanics contest. Awards will be given to winners in all contests. The Expo is also hosting the Georgia FFA State tractor competition for the second time, which is something that is sure to go down in history.

The road at the Sunbelt Ag Expo is much like the yellow brick road, but ours is dirt and will take you to a variety of learning opportunities. We like to use the Expo grounds as a way for attendees to get back in the field and learn more about the latest technology in agriculture, and our hay and field demos are always a hit. Whether you are interested in hay, cotton or peanuts, let’s head out to the field and see the magic happen before our eyes! The tram ride out to the field is a fan favorite for both children and adults. You may come back a little dirty, but the pictures of your kiddos and learning opportunities are worth the trip down the dirt road! Don’t miss the new John Deere Cotton picker being released for the first time in North America at this year’s Expo.

Some farmers grow corn, some grow cotton, and some grow hay. We have many that are proud of the hay that they grow, so we put their hay to the test to see who truly had the best. The Southeastern Hay Contest gives farmers a chance to showcase their high-quality hay for a chance to win great prizes and recognition. Contest winners will be announced Tuesday at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. The grand prize winner will receive a new Massey Ferguson RK Series Rotary Rake DM Series Professional Disc Mower for the 2021 season and $1,000 cash prize. Category sponsors include Agri-King, America’s Alfalfa, Athens Seed Co., Corteva Agriscience, Pennington Seed, R.W. Griffin Industries, Inc., and Southeast Agri Seeds.

Food is one thing that brings people together, so the Expo is proud to bring a variety of cooking demonstrations to the show year after year. This year’s show features Holly Chute and Olivia Rader, executive chefs for the Georgia Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development, Clay Oliver, owner of Oliver Farms, Hannah Dasher from “Stand by Your Pan,” Stripling’s General Store, Two Nutty Chicks and more. Visit the Georgia Peanut Commission for a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the aquaculture area for delicious catfish recipes, and the multitude of food vendors on site. With a wide variety of cooking demonstrations and food trucks, we have you covered from breakfast to dinner, and all snacks in between.

Whether you have a herd of beef cattle, or you just enjoy a nice steak dinner, the Expo offers a variety of seminars at the Beef Pavilion. The 43rd annual Sunbelt Ag Expo will provide excellent opportunities for producers to build their knowledge and build their herd in return. A number of vendors will be present to answer questions regarding forages, reproduction, and nutrition. There will be hands on demonstrations and a market outlook presentation daily. Representatives from major animal health manufacturers of cattle vaccines, wormers, insecticides, identification tags, and antibiotics to answer questions and to offer suggestions for improving herd performance, no matter the size. Visit the Priefert booth next door for cattle handling demonstrations twice daily. There are so many rare opportunities in the beef barn.

Our pond management and aquaponic seminars have become especially popular over the years. It allows Expo goers the opportunity to learn more about weed management, aquaculture and managing ponds for great fishing. The best part about fishing is always the meal afterwards, so we are here to help with all aspects including management, fileting, and the recipes for cooking. Everyone at the Expo is fishing around looking for the fried catfish samples.

Each year the Expo brings a crowd of people to the dairy barn for various events but one, in particular is the Cow Milking Contest. Over the years, the Expo has had women in ag, commissioners of agriculture, Farm Bureau presidents, and even pageant queens participate. However, this year, the Expo is putting a spin on the Cow Milking Contest with it being an all “college dean” line-up. The contest will feature the deans from southeastern colleges and universities. Contestants get to show off their skills at hand milking a cow. If you are looking for an “udderly” good time, be sure to stop by the dairy barn for some friendly competition.