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Madison County Ag Center gets new look

After Photo: Madison County Ag Center’s first major renovation is moving forward.
-SVT Photo by Marianne Graves

Before Photo: Rebuilt restrooms are needed for the restored Ag Center
-SVT Photo by Marianne Graves

By Marianne Graves

Six counties are expected to reap the benefit of the Phase One renovation now in progress at the Madison County Agricultural Center’s 24,000 square foot facility built in 1958 in Madison.

The Florida Legislature approved $500,000 to repair portions of the roof and walls, rebuild the restrooms, put in new lighting and install a new HVAC system in the building, which is owned by the Florida Department of Agriculture and leased to Madison County.

County Coordinator Brian Kauffman reported recently that the first phase of the renovation is approximately 45% complete. Workers have also added a fresh coat of paint with a large welcome awning and glass front doors to give the Ag Center a new look at the location that was previously “60% unusable.”

Even the Ag Center’s grounds will improve: “We’re getting different groups involved with the landscaping, such as 4H and the Garden Club,” said Madison County Planner Jeanne Bass.

The Ag Center is the home of the North Florida Livestock Show and Sale held each year during the week when Presidents’ Day takes place. Last Monday through Thursday, the Ag Center arena was packed with exciting events, awards, Pee Wee, Pig and Calf Scrambles and ended with the Auction on Feb. 23.

Over 160 youth participate in the North Florida Livestock Show and Sale through Future Farmers of America and 4H Clubs from Hamilton, Lafayette, Suwannee, Taylor, Madison, Bradford and in the past from Jefferson County.

“They had over 102 pigs that went to the Auction,” said Heidi Waller of the Madison County Extension Office. She said the Madison County 4H Club, Saddles & Spurs, did well this year selling sausage dogs, hot dogs, funnel cakes and other items each night at the Livestock Show.

Coming soon are Phase Two renovations for 2017-2018 at the Madison County Ag Center. This will involve an additional request for $500,000 from the Legislature to develop handicap accessibility and seating, improve ingress and egress for fire safety, connect to the central sewer and install new windows for safety and energy efficiency.

The Ag Center’s restored front office space is expected to become the future home of the Madison County Soil Conservation District, including Soil Technicians serving three counties: Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison. This location is also under consideration as the future home of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce and the Madison County Tourist Development Council.

The County is looking to the future in which possibly the Madison County Soil Conservation District, Madison County Chamber of Commerce and Madison County Tourist Development Council will maintain and manage the building to promote economic opportunities and tourism by creating educational, cultural and agricultural-related programs and events.

The Madison County Ag Center is located next door to the Madison County Extension Office at 184 NW College Loop in Madison, behind O’Neal’s Buffet.

Packed house for the 2017 North Florida Livestock Show & Sale in Madison. -Photo Submitted