Farm Press Sunbelt Expo 2021 17 Farm Press Sunbelt Expo 2021 17
in the Junior and Senior divisions, to the club or chapter with thebest overall finish, and to the state with the best overall finish. TheSunbelt Expo event is a stand-alone competition.
The students receive a great opportunity to showcase their talents, and the ag industry also reaps the rewards.
“The Sunbelt Expo is a practice contest for other contests thatthey do,” Blalock says, “and a great opportunity for young teachers to learn how to set up a contest, without having the pressureof it being a regional or state contest. And it gives us an excellentopportunity to interact with the next generation of our consumers,”In its first year, the challenges drew about 150 students. Visitorswho want to participate or watch can find the Youth Challenges inthe R. W. Griffin Building. Expo admission for students who registerfor the Youth Challenge is $8. Event registration is free. Lunch forcompetitors is sponsored by AgriSupply and CocaCola.
The FFA Ag Mechanics competition is an individual event formiddle and high schoolers in FFA, which allows students to entertheir metal or wood masterpieces to be judged and then displayedduring the Expo for the public to see.
Students of all ages will have the chance to experience thesights, sounds, and real-world environments of welding withoutthe smoke, burn, and spark when they stop by the American Welding Society Careers in Welding Trailer. The 53-foot AWS trailer iswhere you can try your hand at virtual welding, meet professionals within the welding industry and find out how to win a $1,000scholarship to get started on a path to a career in welding.
NEW EQUIPMENT AND FIELD DEMOS
Visitors will be able to check out trucks and various pieces offarming equipment either from directly inside the cabs or whilewatching crops being harvested on the real-working Darrell Williams Research Farm, where 600 acres are dedicated to agronomicresearch and technologies. The farm is also the location of the popular Expo in-field demonstrations, said Cody Mitchell, the Expofarm manager.
Visitors to the field demonstrations will be the first in NorthAmerica to see the new John Deere CP770 round-bale cottonpicker in action. The CP770 has the new John Deere PRO16 HS Rowcollects the cotton, the CP770 can wrap and eject a module in justover 30 seconds.
There will also be peanut harvesting technology to see, and oneach of the three days of the show, multiple brands of hay cuttersrun side by side, along with tedders, balers and rakes, providingdetailed comparison of how each piece of equipment performs.
But like for many farmers in the area, the 2021 growing seasonwas a challenge, Mitchell said.
“We had a wonderful planting season and had rain when weneeded it, which gave us wonderful stands. But about two weeksafter we planted our last cotton, which would have been mid-June,we started getting rain, and it felt like it rained every single day,”he said. “But we roll with what the weather gives us, and like wedo every year, we’ll have the field demo site ready to welcome ourvisitors.”
FORAGING FOR QUALITY
The Southeastern Hay Contest started growing in 2004, and so didthe interest in improving Southeast hay production. The hay competition focuses on Relative Forage Quality, RFQ, a measurement ofthe nutritional value the hay or baleage offers animals.
The region’s top hay producers and forage experts will onceagain bring the tradition of the annual Southeastern Hay Contestawards ceremony to the Sunbelt Ag Expo on opening day Oct. 19.
“One of the many things we missed last year was the SoutheastHay Contest awards ceremony on opening day. Even though werecognized them at a later date, it just wasn’t the same as doing itat the show. We are looking forward to seeing everyone involved,both winners and sponsors, and restarting a Sunbelt tradition,”Blalock says.
The contest is aneducational partnership between13 Southeasternland-grant universities. Over the last
17 years, the program has encouraged producers totest their hay torefine Southeasternforage production practices. The contest is coordinated by MarceloWallau with the University of Florida, Lisa Baxter with the University of Georgia and Leanne Dillard with Auburn University.
The mission of the hay contest is “to educate people about hayquality, to understand how to make good hay, and what influencegood hay has on animal feeding, performance and supplementa-tion costs,” Wallau said.
SHOWMANSHIP TAKES THE RING
Bill Kaven will lead the Ranch Horse and Horsemanship Demoseach day at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. He is from Illinois and a former faculty member of North Central Texas College. He is with the NationalSnaffle Bit Association, Inc.
NSBA’s mission is to define, promote and improve the quality ofthe show horse, to promote exhibits, events and contests in expositions and shows; to promote the training of pleasure and showhorses, to promote interest in show horses among younger horse-men, and to use and encourage the use of the standard rules forholding and judging contests of the pleasure and show horse.
Sunbelt visitors can catch Analise Granger’s act at 11: 30 a.m.and 2: 15 p.m. each day of the show. She’s a professional Romanrider from Dothan, Ala. Roman riding, sometimes referred to astrick riding, is a Western style that allows a rider to stand on twohorses and perform various patterns or jump through fire.
While visitors are in that corner of the Expo grounds, they canstop at the Beef Pavilion for a seminar, see a cattle handling demonstration at Priefert Arena, or visit the Georgia Mobile Dairy Classroom, one of several seminar sessions at the dairy section, F- 7.
Blalock says the goal for the 43rd Sunbelt Ag Expo is the sameas it has always been: For visitors to say that this year’s show is thebest they’ve ever attended.
“After a difficult time for many, I can tell you we are blessed andready to have this year’s Sunbelt Ag Expo once again in person forour dedicated visitors and vendors,” he said.
On Tuesday morning, one of the Expo’s most profound traditions will once again take place: Around 9: 30 a.m. the Expo groundswill pause. A prayer will be heard across every corner of it. The Star-Spangled Banner will then play. People will bow their heads andput their hands over their hearts in gratitude.