32nd Annual Sunbelt Expo is underway - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

32nd Annual Sunbelt Expo is underway

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue inspects a new type of cotton combine with a peripheral shredder that cuts through cotton stalks as the cotton is harvested. Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue inspects a new type of cotton combine with a peripheral shredder that cuts through cotton stalks as the cotton is harvested.

By David Miller

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The 2009 Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition opened to large crowds amid good weather Tuesday at Spence Field in Moultrie, Georgia.

Despite a tough economy, there are 1,200 exhibitors on the grounds, about the same number as 2008.

One of the highlights of opening day at Expo is the naming of the farmer of the Year. The winner for 2009 is Cary Lightsey of lake Wales, Florida. He is the sixth Florida Ag man to win the award.

If you want to see Lightsey's farm, you'll have to get to an island in lake Kissimmee. His property boasts 14 bald eagle nests, and 28 endangered species can be found there.

The award is presented each year by the Swisher Sweets cigar company, which is in its 20th year as the award sponsor.

Tift County's Bill Brim is the 2009 Georgia Farmer of the Year. Brim farms about 4,000 acres, growing everything from peanuts, to cantaloupes, to peppers.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was just one of the dignitaries at the Expo on Tuesday. One of the innovations he saw was a new type of cotton combine with a peripheral shredder that cuts through cotton stalks as the cotton is harvested. This eliminates a second trip over the cotton, thus saving farmers a huge amount of fuel.

      • Here is more information on the 2009 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo from Chip Blalock, Expo Executive Director.

A diverse array of labor-saving products, cutting edge technology and interactive educational exhibits awaits visitors who attend the 32ND anniversary Sunbelt Ag Expo, October 20-22, 2009, in Moultrie, Georgia. As North America's Premier Farm ShowTM, the Expo attracts more than 1,200 exhibitors and 100,000 attendees.  And in our current climate of economic uncertainty, a trip to this year's Expo is a must for farmers, agribusinessmen, and rural homeowners.

"One visit to the Expo saves you time, money, and effort, which in today's economy, is a smart decision by any measure," says Chip Blalock, Expo Executive Director.  "In one day, you can evaluate models and brands that might not be readily available in your area through state of the art field machinery demonstrations, as well as view cutting-edge research practices and interactive educational exhibits.   The Expo really offers the most efficient means of finding it all in one place at one time."

In addition to gaining hands-on access to the newest and most innovative products on the market, attendees will also benefit from the multitude of free seminars and demonstrations featuring some of the agricultural industry's top experts.  This is a unique opportunity for the show's attendees to gain additional insight into the present and future of the farming industry from renowned experts.  The first annual Technology Innovations and Solutions seminars sponsored by Farm Press and hosted by Southern States Cooperative will highlight what is on the horizon for 2010 regarding seeds, crop protection, precision agriculture, fertilizer, and more.

Animal agriculture displays continue to expand each year at the Expo.  You will be able to take in demonstrations, exhibits and seminars for beef cattle, dairy, poultry and aquaculture. In recent years, horse and equine related activities have broadened to include a variety of horse and rider competitions.  These live demonstrations, as well as static equipment displays, create a truly unique experience for horse enthusiasts of all walks, from commercial equine operations to hobbyists.

The Expo will proudly highlight North Carolina as the 2009 Spotlight State.  Organizations from this great state have put together an exciting exhibit themed, "Got To Be NC Agriculture". "The exhibit will be a great showcase of North Carolina agriculture and agribusiness," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "And with so much interest in local foods, it's a great way to learn more about all the delicious food and drinks produced in our state." We encourage you to visit their exhibit to learn about their thriving agriculture industry and while you are there, sample great North Carolina-grown products and visit the Farm Bureau Federation NASCAR race car.

Once again Swisher International and the Sunbelt Expo will have the honor of saluting the agriculture community and industry with the Swisher Sweets / Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award.  Join us in celebrating the 20th anniversary of this award as ten outstanding farmers join the elite group of 157 previous winners.  They will be recognized at this year's luncheon and the overall winner will be announced at that time.

Gardening aficionados can learn the latest tricks and tools to making backyard gardening easier and more successful in a series of Backyard Gardening Seminars.  A number of presenters will be giving tips and advice to gardeners. Information on organic vegetable gardens, tomato displays, and drip irrigation will help consumers learn how to grow their own food safely and economically.

From farm to market, garden to field, classroom to home, the Expo truly has something for everyone.  So come join the fun!  The Expo's permanent home is Spence Field, a former airbase on 1,680 acres. The Expo is located four miles southeast of U.S. Hwy. 319 on Georgia Hwy. 133. Show hours are 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is $10 per person per day, with children ages 6 and under admitted free with a parent.

For more information, check the Expo Web site: www.sunbeltexpo.com, or contact Sunbelt Expo by e-mail at: info@sunbeltexpo.com, by phone at 229-985-1968, by fax at 229-890-8518, or by writing to: 290-G Harper Blvd., Moultrie, GA 31788.

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