ALABAMA SHINES AS SUNBELT AG EXPO'S SPOTLIGHT STATE OCT. 16-18
MOULTRIE, Ga., — Thousands of visitors to North America’s premiere farm show received a taste of Alabama when they visited the Spotlight State tent at the 35th annual Sunbelt Agriculture Expo in Moultrie, Ga., Oct. 16-18.
|Alabama Farmers Cooperative Director of Public Relations and Advertising Jim Allen, left, welcomes Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to the Spotlight State tent alongside Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, Oct. 16. This year marks the fourth time Alabama has been the Spotlight State in the 35-year history of the Sunbelt Ag Expo. From left are Allen, Pinyan and Bentley.|
“Well Grounded - Alabama Agriculture” was the theme for Alabama’s tent, which featured farm and food products grown and manufactured in the state. Agriculture organizations and agencies from throughout Alabama joined forces to put on what Expo officials said was one of the best spotlight tents in the show’s history.
“The Alabama Spotlight State tent was a big hit,” said Expo Marketing Director Gina McDonald. “Everyone was talking about how beautiful the outside of the tent was with the giant sod display of the state, grown by Beck’s Turf Farm, surrounded by thousands of beautiful flowers grown by Bonnie Plants. All of the plants were grown in Alabama.”
Once inside, visitors found entertainment, as well as an array of giant flat-screen TVs featuring Alabama farm scenes and agricultural facts. One of the most popular attractions at Expo was the green screen photography booth inside Alabama’s tent, where visitors could have their image captured in a variety of agricultural settings.
“The tent was truly a team effort and provided something that was fun, educational and delicious,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, who served as co-chairman of the Spotlight State tent with Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan. “Nothing says ‘Welcome to Alabama’ like delicious, cold sweet tea that was furnished by Milo’s Tea from Bessemer. We also gave away thousands of samples of food products manufactured in Alabama courtesy of the Alabama Grocers Association.”
McMillan said the Spotlight State tent was a great introduction for people who haven’t visited Alabama, but it even surprised some of the state’s own residents.
“The well-grounded theme focused on Alabama’s history, productivity, stewardship, technology and future,” McMillan said. “Agriculture is our state’s largest industry, and we never want to miss an opportunity to share that fact. The Expo attracts farmers and consumers from throughout the world, and it was great to have the spotlight shining on our state when they arrived.”
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley was among those who visited the Expo. He spoke at a luncheon Tuesday, where Dallas County farmer Sam Givhan was honored as Alabama’s Farmer of the Year.
A farmer for 42 years and decorated Vietnam War veteran, Givhan raises cattle and catfish and grows row crops. He was nominated for the award by Federation Area VI Organizational Director Robert Utsey.
As Alabama’s winner, Givhan received a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla.; a $500 gift certificate from the Southern States Cooperative and the choice of either $1,000 in PhytoGen Cottonseed or a $500 donation to a designated charity on behalf of Dow AgroSciences.
Givhan and his wife, Lynne, are members of Safford Baptist Church. They have two adult sons: Sam, an attorney in Huntsville, and David, who manages the farm’s hay and cattle production.
To view photos from the three-day Expo, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/84380492@N03/.