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102nd Farm Show ready to kick off, with a few new features

Posted 1/3/18

The  theme of the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show is Strength in Our Diversity.

The annual event will be held Jan. 6-13 at the Pa. Farm Show Complex, 2300 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg, from 8 a.m. …

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102nd Farm Show ready to kick off, with a few new features


The  theme of the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show is Strength in Our Diversity.

The annual event will be held Jan. 6-13 at the Pa. Farm Show Complex, 2300 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except Sunday, Jan. 7, when it runs 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 13, when it opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.

Admission to the show is free but parking is $15. Parking will be free from noon to 9 p.m. Jan. 5, a food court preview day.

The Farm Show draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to what organizers call the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the United States, with a million square feet under one roof. It features nearly 12,000 competitive exhibits, more than 5,200 of which are animal competitions, plus 300 commercial exhibits and hundreds of educational and entertaining events.

The agriculture industry employs nearly half a million people and contributes $74.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy every year.

The Strength in Our Diversity theme refers to not only the 58,000 farms and 7.7 million acres statewide devoted to agricultural production, but the diversity of agricultural sectors, “from the rich, centuries-old heritage of our dairy and hardwoods industries to more recent ventures in aquaponics and vertical farming,” according to a press release.

The traditional favorites will return, such as the butter sculpture (to be unveiled at 11 a.m. Jan. 4); the PA Dairymen’s Association milkshakes (they turn 65 years old this year), the Army vs. Navy Cook-Off; chef demonstrations; and tons of agricultural displays and events.

However, here are some new things to look for:

• According to PennLive, a few new concessions will join the food lineup: chocolate chip cookies from PennAg Industries; sloppy joes, Philly cheesesteak and kielbasa with sauerkraut from the Pennsylvania Livestock Association booth; and corn fritters from the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association.

• Pennsylvania Christmas trees long have been part of the competitive agenda at the Farm Show, with winners qualifying for the national competition and a chance to supply the White House Christmas tree. This year, Christmas wreaths join the line-up of Pennsylvania products to compete.

• Today’s agriculture careers use cutting-edge technology to give us better food; healthier animals, plants and soil; and tools to conquer climate challenges. Boost kids’ STEM knowledge at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture booth in the Main Hall on Monday with bunny heartbeats, seed science and more. Check into conservation at Diversity on Display in the Expo Hall to learn how farmers put science to work to improve soil, water and food.

• More youth than ever will show off their skills in 2018. New junior livestock exhibitor classes include sheep, goats and swine. Qualifiers from each animal class compete for the title of master showman in four age groups. Youth pleasure horse showmanship will join the lineup of new youth competitions this year.  

• A brand new cider competition will recognize surging consumer demand for hard ciders. Pennsylvania has risen to No. 6 in cider producers nationally in 2017, with new varieties bubbling up constantly. Twenty-six competitors entered their hard ciders in seven categories. Winners will be announced on Saturday, Jan. 6 and displayed during the show.

• Check out the new organic produce competition to see the finest in Pennsylvania organics. Production of certified organics in Pennsylvania has skyrocketed to make the state No. 2 in the nation.

• The Meatball Showdown, on the Culinary Connection Stage at noon Monday, pits junior chefs against one another to see who is the fastest meatball maker.

• Rabbits make their debut  in the junior livestock sale.

• More animals will walk out of Farm Show than walk in. Calving Corner will make its debut, offering the opportunity to witness a birth. Visitors will see veterinarians at work and get a look at the care and stewardship farmers provide animals.

• Pennsylvania musical talent takes center stage at the Large Arena at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Country tunes will be provided by central Pennsylvania favorites Make Mine Country and Chapel Hill.

• Visit Diversity on Display every day in the Expo Hall to learn about beef, poultry, pork and conservation, their impact on the economy, communities and environment. The conservation display will demonstrate how farmers improve soil and water quality through no-till, cover crops and other green planting practices.

• Find out how to fulfill your farm dreams at “So You Wanna Be a Farmer?”, this year’s Know Your Farmer exhibit in the Main Hall. Younger visitors can dive into the dirt to dig up some veggies in a simulated plot. Backyard gardeners or experienced farmers can swap ideas, try out tools for their next project, or learn how to maintain small equipment. A passive solar greenhouse will be on display.

• The Agricultural Artistry display will “seed” your imagination. Think Princess Leia in peppercorns, Mickey Mouse in mustard seeds, a pumpkin seed polar bear, or a dried pea dragon. Check out the crop art masterpieces created for the 2017 Dillsburg Farmers Fair and on display in the Family Living area of the Main Hall. 

Theme days this year are:

• Monday, Jan. 8: Ag Careers and Education Day.

• Tuesday, Jan. 9: Diversity on Display Day.

• Wednesday, Jan. 10: Public Officials Day.

• Thursday, Jan. 11: Veterans, Military and Their Families Day.

• Friday, Jan. 12: Resource Conservation Day.