The exposition site is located on Hwy 163 in West Jefferson and was made possible through a land donation from Sam and Shirley Church in the form of 4.11 acres. The Church family was unable to attend but their donation was noted on numerous occasions. It was the vision of the Church’s that the exposition site would assist the community in keeping children’s activities in the county and also hoped that the construction of an indoor facility would enable the community to participate in weekly programming throughout the year regardless of the weather.
Hanging on the far wall, opposing the speakers, was the exposition site’s official sign which was later mounted on poles at the Hwy 163 site for passing traffic to note.
Carolyn Shepherd began the indoor dedication ceremony, it had been moved from the Hwy 163 site due to inclement weather, by thanking those who attended and recognized several members of the audience including county commissioners and other extension agents.
Following introductions, Extension Agent Charles Young gave the program a historical perspective as regaled the audience with stories of agriculture and farming from past decades and his youth and noted how far agriculture has come in Ashe County. Young noted that after the previous agriculture center was sold, he was able to gauge an overwhelming community support for the construction of a center that could cater to the needs of a livestock show.
Extension Agent Jennifer Miller, who also works with the Ashe County 4-H program, stressed the importance of the role the exposition site would play in educating area youth on the history of agriculture in Ashe County.
“I feel it is important for youth to understand where their heritage comes from and the importance of raising as well as showing livestock,” Miller said. “We have already built a firm foundation for opportunities for youth development.”
Ashe County Manager Dan McMillan also gave a brief speech on the importance of maintaining an ag expo center in the community. McMillan also explained how the center would have not been possible without multiple levels of cooperation in the community.
“There has been this type of cooperation in Ashe County for a long time,” McMillan boasted.
Through the presentation, a reoccurring theme in Monday’s tribute was that the expo site would have not been possible without the cooperation of the community and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. According to the coop’s mission statement, its goal is to promote agriculture in Ashe County by involving youth in agricultural related events and activities, and through the youth gain community acknowledgement and support of the importance and significance of agriculture and its heritage in Ashe County.
Ashe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Blackburn noted how the new center would, “enhance the development of agriculture in Ashe County.”
Talmadge Lawrence, chairman of the Ashe County Friends of Agriculture, explained how the history and future of Ashe County will always be linked to agriculture in some form.
“Our heritage is agriculture in Ashe County and we want to keep that going.”