Attendees of the 2013 Sunbelt Ag Expo enjoyed some of the best weather in recent show history as they visited the 1,219 exhibitors and field demonstrations at this year’s show. Although rains dogged the Southeast for much of the growing season, they stayed away from Sunbelt this week. Chip Blalock talked about this year’s show and plans for next year and 2015 in this video interview on the closing day of the show.
Blalock said between 90,000 and 100,000 visitors were expected to have come through the Expo gates before this year's show ended on Oct. 17. They saw a number of new products and new technologies that are aimed at "improving their bottom line and thus their quality of life," he said.
This year's Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award was won by James Cooley, owner operator of Strawberry Hill U.S.A. in South Carolina. Cooley was one of 10 state winners who were recognized at a luncheon on the opening day of the show Oct. 15. "We had some great farmers represented this year, and they're all winners in our book."
(For an in-depth look at the award winning farm operation of James Cooley, see James Cooley: Sunbelt Farmer of the Year for South Carolina . For a look at the operations of all 10 state winners for 2013, see http://southeastfarmpress.com/sunbelt-ag-expo-0 ).
Blalock noted this year's Expo also showcased a major milestone. As the Sunbelt Ag Expo spotlight state, Florida marked the 500th anniversary of the advent of agriculture with the arrival of Ponce de Leon in the state in 1513. Many of Florida's 300 crops were showcased in an exhibit at Sunbelt.
Next year's spotlight state will be Georgia. In 2015, Mississippi will be recognized.