State’s #1 industry on display
For another year, the Pennsylvania Farm Show has lived up to expectations and provided enjoyment for more than 400,000 visitors.
The 98th edition of the show began last Saturday and runs through Jan. 11 at the massive Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.
The theme for this year’s show is “Pennsylvania Farms: Growing for You” and it is a fitting production that has become a symbol of Pennsylvania’s 62,000-plus farm families who represent an industry with an impact of more than $67 billion on the state’s economy. More than 97 percent of the Commonwealth’s farms are family owned and encompass more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. It is also a tip-of-the-hat to the thousands of people who work in the state’s agribusinesses.
More than 10,000 competitive exhibits, 6,000 animals and 300 commercial exhibits are on display. Not only are the exhibits here for you to enjoy, they offer an education and a stark reminder that there is much more to Pennsylvanian than the metropolitan areas, and that people who live between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are vital to our state’s economy.
Early risers, like this writer, get to the show when the doors open to take advantage of the on-site parking area and avoid the long walk from off-site parking or shuttle buses used at remote parking sites.
Be sure to wear your best walking shoes because, once inside the doors, you will have the opportunity to walk several miles as you wander through exhibits that display everything from farm equipment of yesterday and today to the handiwork of young people that created many beautiful and educational exhibits. For example, did you know that Pennsylvania is the mushroom capital of the world and produces 62 percent of the mushrooms eaten in the United States? Or that the state’s dairy industry supports 60,000 jobs? The Keystone state is one of the nation’s top producers of apples and eggs and is home to more than 150 vineyards. The information is on display and there for you to learn.
The colorful show of products from the food industry in the Commonwealth is mind-boggling. Taking a look at the giant exhibits with brand-names stamped with “PA-Grown” or “Made in PA” makes one understand why agriculture is still the state’s largest industry. Seeing that is also a great incentive to make one to race down to the Giant Food Court, which features foods that are “PA Grown.” Wonderful goodies made from Pennsylvania potatoes, mushrooms, pretzels, maple syrup, apples, milk, funnel cakes, cheese and much, much more provide a tasty treat.
The two farm show arenas are alive all day with competition and judging. Especially interesting is watching the young future farmers preparing their animals for competition. There is a constant buzz of activity in the halls that house the livestock – activities that astound hundreds of visitors as they gather to watch competitors become hog hair-combers and bovine beauticians.
To this writer, the meticulous care they take is second only to the confidence and pride they show when they take their turns on the sawdust floor.
You have a couple of days left to visit this wonderful exhibit of Pennsylvania farming and enjoy all of the goodies, made in the Commonwealth, available in the food court.
The farm show runs through Jan. 10 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $10.
For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.