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A Century of Fun and Education at the Pennsylvania Farm Show
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

This sculpture created from more than 1,000 pounds of butter was done by husband and wife, Jim Victor and Marie Pelton, of Conshohocken, Montgomery County.  They started working on the piece in December and it took 14 days to complete.  The sculpture was sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program.

        With the theme of "Our Commonwealth's Blue Ribbon Experience" this year's Pennsylvania Farm Show is presenting a nod to the individual experiences visitors have enjoyed since the first exhibit took place in 1917.

        More than 62,000 farm families represent the farm industry with an impact of more than $67 billion on the economy of the Pennsylvania.  More than 97 percent of the farms are family owned.  The annual show is an opportunity for them to display the best of the state's agriculture industry and for visitors to learn more about how their food goes from the farm to the shelf. 

        State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said, "Whether you're enjoying your first farm show milkshake, displaying your best sewing work, or exhibiting your prized animal, every has their own blue ribbon experience at the farm show."

        The show opened to the public last Friday and runs through Saturday, Jan. 16 at the massive Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center on Cameron Street, between Wildwood Drive and Maclay Street, in Harrisburg.  More than 400,000 visitors attended the event last year and organizers are hoping the centennial event could bring more than 500,000 people to the show.

        Among the thousands of exhibits, a must see is this year's sculpture made from more than 1,000 pounds of butter. 

        The sculpture, sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program, has been a staple of Pennsylvania's Farm Shows since 1991. The sculpture pays tribute to the 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show and the state's agriculture industry.

        It depicts the many commodities grown and produced within Pennsylvania with a blue rosette ribbon, while capturing an event enjoyed by all ages including: an FFA member exhibiting her dairy cow; a 4-H member with his baby chicks; and a lady and gentleman showing off their blue ribbon apples and pies with a quilt and spinning wheel behind them. These features are surrounded by the words "100th PA Farm Show" as a blue and gold centerpiece.

        The entire 24-acre complex is loaded with 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.  There is lots of Pennsylvania-grown foods and wines, along with other goodies available in the food court and throughout the complex.  Bring your best walking shoes and plan to spend the day.

        The only cloud on this sunny event is the absence of any poultry exhibits due to the fear of avian flu.  Manning a booth, at what was the entrance to the poultry exhibit,  and explaining the missing fowl was Phillip Clauer who said, "There is no present danger of the avian flu, the warm weather of recent months has caused a delay in the normal migration of birds from November and December to December and January." 

        He emphasized the ban is a decision made by farm show officials in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and is purely a precaution.

        If you're worried about standing or walking all day, don't fret.  In addition to many benches strategically located throughout the exhibit areas and lobbies, there are three arenas with lots of seating and there is always a show or judging event for you to watch while giving your feet a rest.   In addition to the judging, rodeos, square dancing competition, champion horse and pony pulling contest and much more, the PA State Police Mounted Drill team also put on a performance in the seated areas.

        Helping to enhance the learning experience of the farm show, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has again set up their "Bring History to the Table" program where visitors can search for 24 replica historical markers have been placed throughout the complex.  Pick up a copy of the historical marker scavenger hunt handbook at the PHMC booth and follow the guide to find the markers.

        Then answer the questions about each marker in the handbook. 

        The farm show is a great way to learn about Pennsylvania's number-one industry, farming.  Pennsylvania is the mushroom capital of the world and produces 62 percent of the mushrooms eaten in the United States.  The state's dairy industry supports 60,000 jobs.  Pennsylvania is one of the nation's top producers of apples and eggs; the Commonwealth is also home to more than 150 vineyards; and there are more than 1,500 bee farms in the state.
        You still have time to visit this year's edition of the farm show and take in all of the wonderful exhibits of Pennsylvania farming and taste all of the fantastic foods in the food court, knowing that all of this experience comes to you courtesy of the Pennsylvania farming industry.

        The farm show runs through Jan. 15 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturday, Jan. 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is free and parking is $15.  Handicap parking and visitor drop-off is available along with free shuttle-bus service from satellite parking lots.

        For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.





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