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September 01, 2011   Email to Friend 

Amy Willis
September 01, 2011

Farm families looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy fall harvest season will soon get that chance when they head to the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show Oct. 18-20 in Moultrie, Ga.

"The Sunbelt Expo is an annual extravaganza of agricultural technology," said Chip Blalock, the farm show's director. "Now in its 34th year, the Expo has become North America's Premier Farm Show. Our goal is to bring together more than 1,200 exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of visitors to our 100-acre exhibit area. During three days in the middle of the week, we provide a convenient venue that allows everyone to exchange ideas and see what's new in the business of providing safe supplies of food, fiber and shelter for American consumers."

The Expo has gained a reputation for southern hospitality in welcoming exhibitors from throughout the United States and the world.

"Most of our exhibitors come back year after year," says Blalock. "We also have more than 75 exhibitors who will be attending our 2011 show for the first time."

New for this year will be the Georgia Agriculture building near the main gate. It will feature a number of new exhibits staffed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Farm Bureau.

Blalock says the Expo is distinct among agricultural trade shows because it gives farmers a chance to get up-close to check out new machinery working in the crop fields of a 600-acre research farm. Crops on the farm include cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans and hay. The Expo offers rides on shaded covered shuttle wagons to carry visitors out to the fields where they'll see a wide selection of equipment taking part in the harvesting and tillage demonstrations. Visitors will also be able to test drive new GMC pickups in addition to a variety of tractors, including those equipped with automated steering and other precision farming technology. A new addition in the fields will be the John Deere Gator XUV Utility Vehicle Test Track.

"Again this year, we will have seminar presentations and special exhibit sections on beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, sheep and goats, alpacas, poultry and commercial catfish," said Blalock. "Anyone interested in raising animals would benefit from a trip to Expo."

The horse demonstrations will also return this year, but to a renovated arena that is now large enough to host sanctioned horse shows and rodeos. The Colquitt County Saddle Club will be organizing some of the horse demonstrations, including one featuring equine Special Olympics participants.

One group of exhibits will feature portable sawmills and equipment used in forestry. Other exhibits will showcase irrigation equipment, livestock equipment, lawn and garden machinery, new pickups, utility vehicles and all terrain vehicles. Software and hardware that allows for crop yield monitoring, automated tractor steering and variable-rate application of farm chemicals will also be featured in precision farming exhibits at the show.

While most of the exhibits are geared to the interests of commercial farmers, the Expo also provides family-friendly entertainment with events such as stockdog trials and antique tractor parades. The show's hunting and fishing exhibitors will return with tips on bringing in wild game and catching trophy-size fish. Family Living exhibits will offer cooking demonstrations, seminars on backyard gardening and displays by prominent regional artist Jack DeLoney.

For the first time, the Expo will welcome a new group of visitors and exhibitors from Arkansas, which is the Spotlight State at this year's farm show. Several agricultural agencies and organizations have joined together to spotlight the diversity of the agricultural industry in Arkansas, "The Natural State."

The Expo also honors outstanding farmers by showcasing the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards. These farmers from nine states will be recognized at a luncheon on the opening day of the show.

The farm show has also partnered with agricultural colleges and universities from throughout the Southeast to provide information from the latest agricultural research that could benefit farmers in the region. The Albany State University Water Policy Center is the latest addition to this group. Also, check out the University of Florida exhibit focusing on the animals and natural resources to be found in the Southeast's swamps.

Tire auctions held at the Titan/Goodyear exhibit during the first two days of the show will once again raise money for the Georgia FFA Foundation.

Blalock praised the hundreds of local volunteers and others who help make the show run smoothly.

"We have an incredible and dedicated group of people who come together each year to help with parking, driving the shuttle wagons, selling tickets, providing food and coordinating our field demonstrations. They really make the Expo a fun and safe educational experience for all who attend," said Blalock. "Our goal is to help make sure that everyone leaving this show will feel good about the agricultural industry and that they will take home equipment or information they can put to use on their own farms."

The Expo is located on Georgia Highway 133, southeast of Moultrie. The gates open at 8:30 a.m. each day of the show. Admission is $10 per person or $20 for a three-day admission ticket. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. For additional information, visit www.sunbeltexpo.com, contact the Expo by e-mail at info@sunbeltexpo.com, or call 229-985-1968.

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