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October 24, 2014

Above: Members of the South Alabama Agriculture and Forestry Museum Foundation's Board of Directors participate in the museum's ribbon cutting Oct. 23. Bea Williams, wife of the late Milton Williams, cut the ribbon. Milton Williams was the first president of the foundation when it was established in 2006. Below: Albert Miller of Mobile watches an educational video at the South Alabama Agriculture and Forestry Museum Oct. 23. The museum features antique farm equipment, educational information about agriculture and photographs.

At the Greater Gulf State Fair in Mobile Oct. 24–Nov. 2, attendees will enjoy the rides, cotton candy, popcorn and games, but they'll also notice a new attraction — the South Alabama Agriculture and Forestry Museum.

The museum features historical and educational exhibits that spotlight different segments of agriculture: aquaculture; forestry and wildlife; row crops; ornamental nursery and greenhouse; fruit, vegetables and bees; and livestock.

“If we can get someone to think about, dream about or decide to become a farmer, then this museum will be a success,” said Billy Lucas, Agriculture and Forestry Museum Foundation president.

The opening of the museum is the realization of a dream that began in January 2006. Representatives from nearly every local commodity organization and agency have been involved in creating the museum, including members of the Mobile County Farmers Federation.

“I've been collecting antique farm equipment for more than 40 years, and I'm glad there’s a place where I can display it,” said Chuff Hinton of Mobile.

Hinton donated several items for the museum, including a 1940s-era hay baler.

“Using this thing, it would have taken eight to 10 people a long, hard day to do 100 bales of hay,” Hinton said. “Now you can do 100 bales in a few minutes. It's mind boggling the way things have advanced.”

Mobile County Farmers Federation President Calvin Freeland donated a grain drill from the 1940s that was his father-in-law's.

“He would be very proud to see it in here,” Freeland said. “He kept this thing through storms — if the barn was destroyed, he'd build a new one to put it in. He started trying to really preserve it 20 or 30 years ago, and he would be so happy to see it in this museum.”

In addition to many exhibits featuring antique farm equipment, the museum also features photographs, videos and educational material.

The museum is located at 1035 Cody Road N., Mobile, AL 36608. It will be open during all events at the fairgrounds. It will also be available for school field trips. 

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