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State, GFB to sponsor Sunbelt Expo building

POSTED: September 19, 2011 6:25 p.m.

Georgia Farm Bureau is partnering with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to finance a new permanent exhibit building at Sunbelt Expo featuring Georgia agriculture. The building will be dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18, the opening day of Expo. All GFB members are invited.

“We’re excited about partnering with the Sunbelt Ag Expo and the Georgia Department of Agriculture to create a permanent exhibit space that will educate Expo visitors about the farmers who grow their food and how they do it,” GFB President Zippy Duvall said. “It’s a natural fit that Georgia’s largest general farm organization would join with the state department of agriculture and Sunbelt Expo to promote Georgia’s number one industry.”

As you enter the main gate of the Expo grounds, the Georgia agriculture building will be located on your left, across from the Expo headquarters building, just before the air traffic control tower.

GFB and GDA employees will staff the new building. GFB’s participation in the new building will replace the tent it previously occupied in the center of the show grounds.

“This new facility will provide the necessary platform allowing Georgia to expand its outreach of agriculture and to enhance our existing and future relationships with Georgia farmers and consumers for generations to come,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said.

The Georgia Agriculture Building previously housed an Expo storage facility. When fully renovated, the building will encompass 5,400 square feet. Interior walls will feature rough-cut lumber to give the building the appearance of a barn interior. The building will be equipped with a full-size test kitchen outfitted with appliances donated by Lowe’s of Moultrie.

“We are very appreciative of these two leading agricultural organizations for supporting our educational mission with this significant capital investment in our show grounds,” Sunbelt Expo Executive Director Chip Blalock said.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture was one of the original sponsoring organizations of the Expo, and Georgia Farm Bureau was an original exhibitor at the first Sunbelt Expo held in 1978.

In related Expo news, Berrien County Farm Bureau member Carlos Vickers has been named the 2011 Georgia Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. Vickers joins eight other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award. The overall winner will be announced Oct. 18 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo.

Vickers farms in partnership with his brother Lamar. They farm 3,135 acres, including 2,535 acres of owned land and 600 acres of rented land. In addition to blueberries, they grow watermelons, tobacco, peanuts, cotton and corn. They also have 800 acres of timber and 300 acres of pasture for their beef cattle.

Sunbelt hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 18-19 and from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 20. Admission is $10 per day per person or $20 for a multi-day pass. Children 12 and under are free with a parent. Visit www.sunbeltexpo.com for more information about Sunbelt.

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