Ag Festival celebrates Walker County agriculture; past, present and future 

The Walker County Ag Festival has all the trappings of an old-time county fair. The only fair-like things missing from the one-day event will be midway rides.

And that is as it should be because the stated purpose of the Ag Fest is to "showcase our agricultural history, agricultural product, local school and community organization and local talent."

While it might sound like a lot to attempt for an inaugural event, organizers expect a big turnout for this all-day festival that will be held Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Walker County Ag Center in Rock Spring.

What prompted this was several of the ag teachers talking about the lack of a fair for students to have opportunities to show their skills, according to Becky Forrester, agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor at Gordon Lee High School and member of the festival committee.

"The county fairs during the last few years had shown there was an interest in the traditional fairs," she said.  "This affords a chance to have a one-day event that showcases the county's students.".

Forrester said the organizers decided to focus on "true agricultural events" because visitors to the fairs held at Mountain Cove Farms "kept inquiring about the animal displays."

Joan Fowler, a member of the festival committee and on County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield's staff, said organizers want to not only offer students a showcase for their efforts but to remind residents that ours is a rural county.

"We are trying to show that agriculture is not something that only takes place in south Georgia," she said.

Focusing attention on the local importance of ag-related industry was key to planning this year's festival, said Michael Gardner, agriculture teacher at LaFayette High School.

"Ag is the No. 1 industry in Walker County and in the state of Georgia," he said.

LHS's ag teacher said it is sometimes easy to forget how popular ag-related projects are in local schools, even as the area becomes less rural and more of a bedroom community for nearby cities and industries.

"Several of those showing at the festival keep their goats at school during the show season," Gardner said. "A lot of the kids don't live on the farm — they live in the city."

The teachers agreed that raising livestock helps youngsters build confidence, learn responsibility and gives  every child an opportunity to participate in an activity that aims to serve individuals and groups.

The festival on Saturday lets them proudly show the result of their hard work and dedication.

"This will, in some ways, recall the county fairs of the past," Forrester said.