Expect more exhibits and demonstrations at the 102nd PA Farm Show this week
HARRISBURG The 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show will be held through Saturday at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, at the corner of Cameron and Maclay streets in Harrisburg.
Hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Friday, January 12 and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, January 13.
Sponsored by the state Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in America, with 24 acres under roof, spread throughout 11 buildings and three arenas. Farm Show officials expect more than 500,000 spectators, some 6,000 animals, more than 10,000 competitive exhibits and about 300 commercial exhibitors at the eight-day event.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is focusing on children and families in its exhibit area with an interactive game of hopscotch, free animal visors for youngsters and a photo booth.
In addition, PFB will provide information and an opportunity to discuss key agricultural issues with staff. “The Farm Show provides a festive atmosphere where people of all ages can learn about agriculture and the people who produce the food they eat,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “At the same time, farming is a serious business with many challenges facing the viability of farm families. We encourage farm show visitors to start conversations with farmers to learn more about what they do, why they do it and the challenges they face.”
Farm Bureau’s educational charitable organization, the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, will encourage children to take part in the interactive hopscotch activity, which includes farmer videos. Foundation staff will also hand out a variety of animal-themed visors (cows, sheep, beef cattle, pigs, bees and chickens) inside PFB’s exhibit area, which is located at booth 213 in the Exposition Hall near the main Food Court. In addition, a photo booth with a farm backdrop will be available for family pictures.
The show holds hundreds of exhibitors including a 1,000-pound butter sculpture.
Meanwhile, representatives of Farm Bureau’s Government Affairs and Communications Division will be on hand to answer questions about current issues impacting Pennsylvania agriculture.
Visitors can learn about member benefits for farmers and non-farmers, and register to win a variety of prizes, including a free two-year lease on a new Ford F-150 truck.
Visitors can stop by the area where live animals are housed, and often have a chance to talk with farm kids and other children involved with FFA and 4-H programs. Many 4-H members enter projects in Farm Show youth livestock shows. A potato judging contest was held on Tuesday.
More youth than ever will show off their skills this year with new junior livestock exhibitor classes, including sheep, goats and swine. Qualifiers from each animal class will compete for the title of Master Showman in four age groups. Rabbits are available for the first time this year in the junior livestock sale.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with a volunteer membership of more than 62,000 farm and rural families, representing farms of every size and commodity across the state.
Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences’ exhibit in the Main Hall will be the site of presentations throughout the week featuring Extension horticulture and food safety educators, Master Gardeners and Master Watershed Stewards.
Sessions led by food-safety extension educators will cover the basics of home food preservation. A display area will feature free publications on freezing, canning and other topics, and Penn State Extension experts will be on hand to answer visitors’ questions.
Throughout the complex, many other Farm Show events and activities depend on behind-the-scenes contributions from College of Agricultural Sciences personnel. Each year, more than 100 faculty members, county-based extension educators and staff from the college lead and participate on Farm Show committees, develop displays, and coordinate competitive exhibits and shows ranging from dairy cattle and poultry to maple products and mushrooms.
Pennsylvania is number-two in the nation for production of certified organics, according to the farm show website. There will be a new organic produce competition to celebrate the skyrocketing of state organic produce.
There will be a “Diversity on Display” exhibit every day in the Expo Hall where visitors can learn about beef, poultry, pork and conservation, the community, the impact on the economy, the environment and tastes. The display will also demonstrate the ways in which farmers attempt to improve soil and water quality.
The crop art masterpieces created for the 2017 Dillsburg Farmers Fair will be on display in the Family Living area of the Main Hall to allow visitors a chance to see the large floral and vegetation displays.
A simulated dirt plot will be available for young children to dig up vegetables as well as information for experienced farmers or backyard gardeners to exchange ideas and learn about equipment, including information about solar greenhouses.
A cider competition is a new feature this year as well. “Recognizing surging consumer demand for hard ciders, Pennsylvania has risen to No. 6 in cider producers nationally in 2017, with new varieties bubbling up constantly,” according to the website.
Although state Christmas trees have had many competitions at the farm show with qualifiers entering for national recognition and a chance to supply the White House Christmas tree, this year wreaths will be part of the competition.
Admission is free, and parking is fifteen dollars. For more information, visit the Farm Show website at farmshow.pa.gov.