The $20 million Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center will open during the first weekend of March with four days of celebration.

The center, located at 3114 N. Wayne Memorial Drive, will be 1.5 acres under roof. T.A. Loving is the contractor for the project.

Festivities on Thursday, March 1, will start with a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m. Then the doors will open to Ag Expo, the first event to be held at the center, James Wade Jr., center venue director and general manager, told those attending Tuesday's State of the Community program.

The Cooperative Extension Service and others are helping put the expo together, he said. It will feature educational agricultural information on display.

"That night, we will tear all of that down, change it over," Wade said. "On Friday there is going to be an invitation only gala. Turn that over Friday night, and all day Saturday we are going to have a family open house.

"We will have some exhibits. We will have some things going on. We will have bounce houses and fun things for kids to do. The next morning, on Sunday, we are going to have a prayer breakfast in the morning and then that afternoon Wayne County Public Schools are going to be entertaining us with choirs and bands, things like that. So it is going to be quite the weekend. We hope everyone comes out to see the building."

The building is 90 percent complete, Wayne Commission Chairman Bill Pate said.

"It is a prize for Wayne County," he said. "David Lewis, the superintendent, who has done an excellent job, was telling us it will be done by Christmas. He will get the occupancy permits in January.

"He will turn it over to staff Feb. 1, and (Extension Service Director) Kevin Johnson and his crowd will begin moving over from George Street (Wayne Center). They can't wait to get there, I can promise you that.

"After that it will be March 1 before James will be able to open up the other."

The center is an amazing facility that is built in two wings, Wade said.

One is all of the agricultural offices including the Cooperative Extension Service, Wayne Soil and Water and federal Farm Services.

"They are set up in a great way for folks who come in who need help from any of those agencies to meet with them," he said. "There is a great room for 4-H to do all of their projects. Then the other wing is the wing that we will be renting out.

"We have four meeting rooms, the big hall which is about 14,500 square feet. The big hall can seat 850 to 900 people at a banquet. It can also be divided off into four different size rooms. It is something that I truly think people here should be proud of. It is going to be a showpiece."

The land for the project was donated by the city of Goldsboro.

The city is working to secure a hotel for its adjacent lot at the intersection of Wayne Memorial Drive and New Hope Road.

Wade also a pitch for a brick paver fundraiser, now underway.

"We are selling brick pavers, so it is a perfect opportunity if you or your family would like to be a part of history," he said. "You go online to our website. The website is themaxwellcenter.com.

"But there is a link to buy brick pavers if you want to put your family's name there for history, if you want to do it in memorial for someone in your family who has passed away, if you want to do it for a new graduate."

The cost is $125 for a 4-inch by 8-inch paver; $250 for an 8-inch by 8-inch paver; and $500 for corporate logo and name on an 8-inch by 8-inch paver

"So it is a good way to be part of this project and to be there forever," Wade said.