Georgia National Fair awards recognize century-old farms

awoolen@macon.comOctober 9, 2013 

Fair

A team of professional cattle groomers detail a competitive steer Sunday at the Georgia National Fair. Georgia Centennial Farm Awards have been given out at the fair for 20 years.

GRANT BLANKENSHIP/THE SUN NEWS — gblankenship@macon.com Buy Photo

PERRY -- There is more to the Georgia National Fair than fried candy bars and fast-moving rides.

The fair is home to many agricultural events, one of which honors Georgia farms that have been operating for 100 years or more.

The Georgia Centennial Farm Awards have been given out for 20 years.

This year, 26 recipients were honored at the fair.

One of those was Gatliff Farms in Byron.

Greg Gatliff still farms the land, which grows cotton, peanuts and wheat straw and has been in the family since 1896.

“I look at the farm as a family member,” Gatliff said. “It’s fed and clothed us.”

His mother and father, William and Susan Gatliff, accepted the award.

Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black was at the fair a second day to give a speech.

“There is no brighter picture than a farm that has continued to operate with integrity for generations,” he said to the crowd of farmers who have survived droughts and depressions.

Black also was monitoring the success of a new endeavor at the fairgrounds, the Georgia Grown Building.

It is the first year a building has been dedicated to the businesses that operate in Georgia.

“It just makes sense to have Georgia all in one place,” he said.

There were 27 booths promoting everything from the Georgia Pecan Commission to Synder-Lance, a peanut manufacturer.

In previous years, vendors were given space in different locations. Black said it made sense to bring them all under one roof.

A store was filled with 54 different vendors selling products made in Georgia such a syrups, pickles and beef jerky.

“Many of these people have never exhibited here before,” Black said.

He anticipates the program will grow each year, and his hope is that they have to expand to a larger building.

“We’re happy but not satisfied,” Black said about the success of the program so far at the fair.

Aside from the Georgia Grown building, more than 3,500 animals were expected to be shown during the 11-day run, said Michele Treptow, director of communications at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter.

School children came in droves Friday as bright yellow buses parked near the North gate.

Schools from 75 counties in Georgia would be in attendance, not including the children who show in various clubs such as FFA and 4-H, according to Teresa Hawk, sponsorships and special programs director.

“With the special club groups, SkillsUSA, TSA, FFA, FCCLA, HOSA, CTI, FBLA and DECA, that hold their rallies in Reaves Arena, there is another 22,500 students that take part in those events,” Hawk said.

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