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Georgia National Fairgrounds announces statewide partnership with GPLS

GPLS News, May 2016

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Georgia National Fairgrounds announces statewide partnership with GPLS
Stephen Shimp, executive director of the GAEA

The Georgia Agriculture Exposition Authority (GAEA) held an event this morning at the Georgia National Fairgrounds to announce a statewide partnership with Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS). The two organizations have teamed up with assistance from corporate sponsors to encourage children to participate in the 2016 Summer Reading Program, which encourages children and teens to read while school is out.

Each of the 400-plus libraries in the state of Georgia will receive a family four-pack of tickets to the Georgia National Fair, coming to Perry Oct. 6-16. The Georgia National Fair will provide each library throughout the state with one prize pack to reward a winning reader between the ages of 5 and 12.

Stephen Shimp, executive director of the GAEA, explained to the crowd why the partnership is a good fit for the program: "Since the first fair, we have stayed true to our mission: The state of Georgia established the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority to showcase Georgia's agriculture/agribusiness, to promote the agricultural achievements of Georgia's young people, to provide a center for diverse activities to benefit the state's economy, and to stage and promote a statewide fair to accomplish one or more of the above.

"We feel this partnership fits perfectly with the mission of the Georgia National Fairgrounds and creates a strong partnership with Georgia Public Library Service to accomplish its mission as well. In the end, it encourages continuing education for Georgia's youth -- and hopefully educates the state of Georgia about the Georgia National Fair, held each October for the past 26 years."

The GAEA-GPLS partnership wouldn't be possible without the assistance of corporate partners. "These include Kroger, Sutherland's Foodservice -- and specifically Gene Sutherland, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Georgia FFA Foundation," said Diana Sutherland Earwood, vice president of Sutherland's Foodservice and principal of the consultation and sales firm plain.stated. "When l learned about the potential partnership between the fair and public libraries," Earwood said, "I couldn't help but be involved. In the letter to our sponsors, I wrote that 'as a proud mom of a 17-year-old girl, I can say that every summer I took my daughter to the public library to read books in her elementary years, and now she looks forward to the Georgia National Fair every October in her high school years.' I am happy to help bring together these two deserving partners!"

Jessica Everingham, assistant state librarian for library development and support, stated: "Each summer, more than half a million children and teens participate in summer reading at Georgia's public libraries. We hope this partnership will encourage even more young readers to join us for this year's program, called "On Your Mark, Get Setů READ!" Studies have shown that participation in public library summer reading programs leads to academic success. We want Georgia children to avoid the summer slide and return to school in the fall ready to learn -- and also ready to go to the fair."

This is the 10th statewide partnership that public libraries have begun with organizations dedicated to encouraging continued education and lifelong learning for Georgians. Together, Everingham said, these programs have educated and entertained hundreds of thousands of residents while adding more than $13 million in value to the services that Georgia's public libraries provide. For more information regarding these partnerships and how to participate in Georgia public libraries' Summer Reading Program, ask your local librarian or visit