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The Greatest Show in the Commonwealth
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

96th Pennsylvania Farm Show lives up to billing

        With 7.7 million acres of farmland and $6.1 billion in cash receipts from production agriculture, it’s no wonder that agribusinesses are the leading economic driver in Pennsylvania.
       With that in mind, what better place to see and experience the No. 1 business in our state than at the 96th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show! More than 400,000 visitors will make the trip to Harrisburg in 2012 to see 10,000 competitive exhibits, 290 commercial exhibits and 6,000 animals competing for top honors in the Commonwealth. Be sure you have a good set of walking shoes on while you meander around the more than 24-acres of exhibit area.
The Show, which officially opened to the public last Saturday, didn’t disappoint those who fought the traffic jams to show up at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in the state’s capital.
        Once inside the cavernous confines, with a map and location of daily attractions in hand, one can roam at will visiting what interests them most or setting a spell to enjoy any of the numerous competitions, shows and other events in the spacious arenas.
        Our local media entourage chose to race past the exhibits and food court to begin our visit in the four halls that housed the livestock. We watched the handlers prepare their animals for the day’s competition with the care and precision of the best stylist in an upscale beauty salon. With hairspray, teasing combs, clippers and blow-dryers, they primped and prepared their charges for the judging. Young and old, student and sage, they all had one thing on their mind: the intense competition that comes at the largest farm show in the United States.
        Then it was off to the Main Hall and the exhibits there. Hours can be spent among the examples of agribusiness on display. There were beautiful flowers, landscaping models, fruits, vegetables, honey and bees-wax sculptures, trees, maple syrup and more lined up and waiting for the judges to decide the best in the state. And baked goods – rows and rows of pies and cakes that looked so good it was almost a shame that they had to be cut.
        The centerpiece of the 2012 show was a 1,000-pound butter sculpture depicting a young 4-H member showing a prized calf at a county fair. The sculpture, created by Jim Victor of Conshohocken, was a tribute to the 100th anniversaries of the Pennsylvania 4-H and Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs.
        After sitting to enjoy segments of a High School Rodeo and watching a bit of the Draft Horse Cart Classes, a trip through the Exposition Hall was in order.
        A stop in the food court is a must. Here, you can taste everything Pennsylvania from honey to maple syrup; baked potatoes to potato donuts; apples, cherries and much, much more!
        Continuing through Exposition Hall, in the middle of the farm equipment displays, we found a new 10,000-square-foot exhibit known as “Today’s Agriculture.” The exhibit uses an 84’ x 42’ miniature barn to show farm animals in their typical housing plus small fields of corn and soybeans to give visitors a look at modern agricultural practices.
        Rounding out the visit was a look at the numerous Future Farmers of America (FFA) exhibits from high schools throughout the state. The informative and thought-provoking displays give us hope that farming will remain Pennsylvania’s top business in the foreseeable future.
        If you plan to visit the Farm Show in 2012 you better hurry. It runs through this Saturday. Remember, if you go take your best walking shoes and plan to spend the whole day.

Upper Bucks Technical School Animal Technology students Ricardo Ramirez, 17, and Miranda Stratton, 18, both of Sellersville, pose with two of the sheep entries from the school.

Decorative cakes adorn a table waiting to be judged in the Hershey’s Cocoa Classic Chocolate Cake Contest.

The 1,000-pound butter sculpture, created by Jim Victor of Conshohocken, will be put through a digester at the end of the eight-day show that will convert it to 65 kilowatt hours of electricity to operate a dairy farm in Juniata County.

Charles Marsch, of Marsch Show Cattle in Green Lane, shows one of his seven entries in the Shorthorn cattle category. It was another successful year for Marsch's Show Cattle, which took home 15 ribbons, including 11 first place finishes.







Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) stops to talk to a visitor as he makes his way through the Exposition Hall at the 96th Annual Farm Show.






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