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103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

            Pennsylvania's annual farm show opened last Friday and once again more than 12,000 exhibits, including 5,200 animals, 300 commercial and hundreds of educational and entertaining events, were on display.

Charlie Marsch (fourth from left) stands behind his Reserve Grand Champion, Trump's

Fool.  After 32 years and scores of awards, Marsch is retiring from raising show cattle.

            Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected at the event which celebrates the Commonwealth's agriculture industry that contributes hundreds of billions of dollars to the economy each year and is the nation's biggest event to honor that industry.

            The first show took place in 1917. Since then, the annual event has presented an opportunity for scores of agribusiness related businesses, crafters, artisans and other related exhibits to display their specialties and for visitors to learn about how the food goes from the farm to the shelf.

Reagan Bitler, president of the PA Gourd Society,

delicately burns his artwork into the rind of a gourd.

Dozens of beautifully hand-crafted and decorated

gourds were on display in the PAGS exhibit.

            The massive farm show complex in Harrisburg always provides a challenge to any visitor trying to experience all the show has to offer in one day.  Over the years, regular visitors develop a routine, making sure that they take in a few new events each year.

            One routine this regular visitor to the show will miss next year is the visit with Charlie Marsch of Marsch Show Cattle at Redstone Farm, in Marlborough Township.  After 32 years, and scores of winning show cattle, Marsch is retiring.

            This perennial winner had another great year with his stock winning awards in the shorthorn category for Grand Champion, Reserve Grand Champion, Premier Exhibitor, Best Six Head and Premier Breeder.

            Among the craft exhibitors was Reagan Bitler of Hanover, York County.  We found Bitler, an educator at Hanover Public Middle School, working away on intricate design on a gourd at the Pennsylvania Gourd Society's exhibit.  Dozens of unique and beautifully done designs and creations using gourds were on display.

            Bitler said he has been doing the artwork for "quite a few years", and he is the current president of the Pennsylvania Gourd Society.  The group will be holding its 2019 PA Gourd Gathering on June, 13, 14 and 15 at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center, 80 Rocherty Road in Lebanon, PA.  The free admission includes parking, demonstrations and gourd cutting.  It features classes, raw gourd and craft suppliers, gourd art, silent auction, raffles, make and takes, AGS gourd competition, a picnic and Friday night music.

            You can find more information on the website 

            A highlight every year of the show is the one-ton butter sculpture on display in the Main Hall.  The sculpture, sponsored by American Dairy Association North East (ADANE), features several individuals donning superhero capes, including an athlete, a soldier, a doctor, a firefighter, and a dairy farmer. The sculptors began work in mid-December to craft the work of art from butter donated by Land O' Lakes in Carlisle, Cumberland County.

            Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding remarked, "This year's Farm Show theme is Inspiring Pennsylvania's Story, and the butter sculpture has for many years been a part of that story. No matter which shape it takes on from year to year, it's always a celebration of our state's dairy industry and of the rich history of the entire agriculture industry."

            Following the Farm Show, the butter will be moved to the Reinford Farm in Juniata County to be converted into renewable energy in the farm's methane digester.

            If you haven't had a chance to visit the 2019 Farm Show yet, you still have time.  The show will run on Friday, Jan. 11 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 12 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is free and parking is $15.  Shuttle service is available.

            From exhibitors to food vendors specializing in Pennsylvania specialties, there is so much to see and enjoy. 





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