Just when you thought the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter couldn’t get any bigger, they are, thanks to bond money in the new state budget.
Tisha and Alan Carr raise their herd of goats in Macon on their Bone Creek farm. They use the milk the goats produce to create personal care products like soap and lotion to sell throughout Central Georgia, including the Georgia National Fair in Perry.
“Our business has grown dramatically by being by being in the Georgia Grown building,” Alan Carr said.
“I would say its definitely changed our business by being at the fair,” Tisha Carr said.
The Department of Agriculture is getting $2.4 million to double the size of the Georgia Grown building, allowing more room for other vendors.
“It would offer so many opportunities for other Georgia Grown members to come and join us,” Tisha Carr said.
Agriculture commissioner Gary Black says they'll also add a “birthing center” to the Georgia Grown Building, giving fair guests the chance to watch live births of farm animals during the fair each fall.
Black says he got that idea from other state fairs like Minnesota.
The livestock operations are also getting upgraded. They'll be adding a third climate controlled arena, along with stalls and RV hookups.
Stephen Shimp, executive director of the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, says this will complete their master plan for the site.
“Big equine events, and big cattle events, they want multiple arenas they can run in for different types of events,” Shimp said. “It can be they want the dirt different in a certain arena and different seating, so this really finishes the puzzle.”
The extra arena will allow them to have up to 3 livestock events at the same time.
Agriculture and Youth director Philip Gentry says the expansion will help promote Georgia agriculture.
“It’s also another facility that we'll be able to provide agriculture opportunities to the youth of Georgia through 4-H and the FFA and the events that we host for those guys,” Gentry said. “That's at the core of our mission here at the ag cente,r and it's super important for what we’re doing is to offer optimum experience for youth in our state.”
Shimp says this expansion will help them become self-sufficient.
“We provide 90 percent of our own funding,” Shimp said. “When it was first developed, I don’t think anyone thought that the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter would grow to where it is today so this can help us.”
Both projects are expected to be completed by the 2018 Georgia National Fair.