Sunbelt Invites Visitors to Get Behind the Wheel

By: Allison Floyd, Growing America

2015 will be the year to take a test drive at the Sunbelt Ag Expo, where three major pickup truck manufacturers, tractor-makers and ATV-manufacturers invite visitors to get behind the wheel to compare.

The expo will include three pickup truck test tracks – Ford, Chevy/GMC and Ram Commercial – in addition to all the usual fun of the three-day event Oct. 20-22 in Moultrie, Ga.

“This is the year of the test track,” said expo Executive Director Chip Blalock. “In addition to the regular demonstrations of tillage and harvesting cotton, corn, peanuts and soybeans, we are going to have hands-on demonstrations everywhere. 

This is the first year that all three major U.S. truck makers will offer test drives. Gator also will return with a test track, as will Titan-Good Year test. Yamaha and Honda will have exhibit tracks for their ATV models.

A relatively new addition for small-scale farmers or large-scale gardeners also will let visitors compare and contrast small tractors. “Weekend warriors,” as Blalock calls them, learn about 20- to 60-horsepower compact tractors, in the Hoss Tools Sustainable Living Center, while full-time farmers are pining after their dream equipment with 10 times that much power.

“Eight manufacturers are participating, so folks who are new to this type of gardening or farming can compare and contrast,” Blalock said. “When they go to their local dealer, they will be better equipped to know what they need – or what they want.”

The expo launched the Rural Lifestyle section in 2014, and tweaked the name this year to honor Hoss Tools Company from Norman Park, Ga., which has made a healthy business out of supplying gardening tools for people living a rural lifestyle. The Rural Lifestyle Section includes vendors and exhibitors showcasing the latest growing techniques and planting varieties for people committed to growing their own food; in 2014 demonstrations included getting started with backyard chickens, growing herbs and pollinating crops.

Three weeks out, people who are planning to visit the expo can buy tickets in advance on the Internet for the first time. Go to and buy at a discounted price.
It’s no guarantee of good weather, but Blalock has an inkling that one change will keep the storm clouds away.

After rain forced expo organizers to close the Gate 4 entrance in 2011 and 2014, the staff paved the driveway through the field during this off season.

“This year, if it rains, we aren’t going to have to close that gate at all,” Blalock said. “Of course, I figured if I paved that road, it wouldn’t rain at all.” 

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