For the fourth time in Sunbelt Ag Expo’s 34-year history, Alabama will be the spotlight state, and while state officials say the first three were great, the fourth time around will be a spotlight to remember.
The theme for the Alabama Spotlight State is: Alabama Agriculture - Well Grounded. The idea reflects that all things related to farming and agriculture begin with a good foundation, including the men and women who care for the soil, air and water necessary to sustain all forms of life. The expo, held in Moultrie, Ga., will be Oct. 16-18.
“Our theme focuses on the fact that Alabama agriculture is well grounded in many areas, including history, technology, diversity, stewardship and productivity,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, who co-chairs the Alabama Spotlight State Committee with Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan.
This year Alabama’s Spotlight Tent will feature a distinctive, modern flair aimed to pique the interest of young and old visitors alike, Pinyan says. A unique and colorful entrance to the tent, featuring a giant sod replica of Alabama grown by Beck’s Turf Farm in Macon County, Ala., will be trimmed with thousands of flowers and plants that include pansies, flowering cabbage and kale grown by Alabama’s own Bonnie Plant Farm. Native hardwoods and shrubs grown by Beck’s Turf Farm will round out the living display. The world-famous Catfish Car and the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association Beef Trailer will greet visitors as they approach the tent entrance.
Large flat-screen televisions will act as revolving billboards in the tent and will feature stunning photos of agricultural scenes from throughout Alabama along with interesting educational facts about every segment of agriculture in the state.
“A section in the tent that is sure to be popular is the green screen photography display that allows visitors to have their photo taken with a variety of interesting and whimsical backgrounds,” Pinyan says.
A dirt track in the tent will give visitors the chance to drive a new John Deere tractor, albeit a remote control toy replica.
“In addition to other informational displays around the tent, the Alabama Grocers Association will display food items and will have coupons and samples of some of the best-tasting food in America that’s made right here in Alabama,” Pinyan notes.
Entertainment in the spotlight tent is sponsored by First South Farm Credit and will feature professional rodeo clown and entertainer Trent McFarland of Hope Hull, Ala. His act, which will be performed several times throughout the day, features fancy trick roping along with an in-your-face style of comedy.
Alabama Spotlight State sponsors and volunteers include the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Alabama Farmers Federation, Bonnie Plants, Beck’s Turf Farm, First South Farm Credit, Alabama Agribusiness Council, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Alabama Poultry & Egg Association, PolarCool and SunSouth John Deere.
Other committee members and contributors include the Alabama Catfish Producers, Alabama Grocers Association, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Peanut Producers Association, Alabama Forestry Association, Alabama Farmers Market Authority, Auburn University and Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service.
“Agriculture is a $5 billion industry in Alabama, and we’re excited about introducing all those who attend the Sunbelt Ag Expo to what our state has to offer. I think they’ll find that our claim of Alabama agriculture being well grounded, is more than a slogan, it’s real,” Pinyan said.