Visitors invited to celebrate Pennsylvania Farm Show’s 107th anniversary
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A million square feet in Harrisburg holds the only state fair held in the heart of winter — the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The 2023 exposition runs Jan. 7-14 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily except on Sunday, Jan. 8 when the times are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 14 when it opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.
At this 107th farm show, the theme “Rooted in Progress” explores Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry, its heritage and roots of its success.
In his invitation to the show, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding invited businesses that market their products directly to consumers to enter a new competition. Redding says, “Direct farm sales are one of many areas where Pennsylvania ag producers shine. This is your chance to show what makes your business part of Pennsylvania’s success.”
The businesses could enter their websites, marketing brochures, and social media by early December in the new PA Farm Show Agriculture Marketing Contest to earn cash and recognition. The resultant state champions will be celebrated during this Pennsylvania State Fair.
Besides this competition, the farm show packs winners and also-rans into the complex the entire duration of the event. Many of these contests have been presented for decades. Beef, dairy cattle, market and dairy goats, sheep, rabbits, poultry and more plus showmanship competitions for the presenters continues. Many are youth, often in 4-H programs. Beer, cheese, wine and cider competitions, plus extensive farm commodities and family living items are all displayed.
Prizes can be routes to success. For example, the Christmas tree champion growers have often had their trees selected for famous locations—including the White House.
Some receive their awards during the Show. The best apple pie; junior baking cookies, brownies and bars; chocolate; jelly/jam bars; and oatmeal raisin cookies illustrate the skill of Pennsylvania home bakers. Typically, they have earlier honed their craft at county and other local fairs.
Each year fans flock to see their familiar, favorite events. Each year they will also find something new.
This year, near the Calving Corner in the Northeast Exhibit Hall, Destination Dairy will feature “Moo U,” an interactive STEM learning area with hands-on activities for kids of all ages. Veterinarians, educators from Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, and the Dairy Excellence Foundation will explain the science and technology of modern dairy farming.
Alpacas are always fluffy favorites; some will be dressed to the nines for a costume contest in the Equine Area.
Friends of the Farm Show offers Goat Yoga in the New Holland Area Concourse for interactive farm fitness hopping.
Regardless of one’s farming know-how, the new Conservation Exhibit in the Giant Expo Hall and the So You Want to Be a Farmer exhibit in the main hall can bolster one’s knowledge. New raised beds, giant sunflowers, a rainfall simulator and innovative equipment will fascinate and entertain. Plus, on-hand experts will share their experiences.
Every day and every hour the Pa Preferred Culinary Connection stage will prepare delicious creations with Pennsylvania products. The first Saturday is Mushroom Day, Sunday–Vegetable, Tuesday–Potato, Wednesday–Beef and Veal, Friday–Pork, and Saturday–Dairy. The Military Appreciation Day on Thursday features the Army-Navy Cookoff, and Friday presents the Best Pork Chop competition. Visitors can sample the chef-celebrity dishes and take the cookbook home.
Food is a perennial draw at the Farm Show. To celebrate 70 years of their milkshakes, the Dairyman’s Association is introducing their brand-new Orange Cream Milkshake.
Agriculture groups have a tradition of food sales attractions for the Show. Their funds received typically augment their marketing and research efforts. Look for their educational displays and savor their Food Court culinary fare.
The oldest potato cooperative in the United States, the PA Cooperative Potato Growers, Inc.’s real fresh-cut French fries, plus baked sweet potatoes nourish the body and psyche. What’s more, generations of Farm Show visitors have clamored for their potato donuts.
The Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association’s blooming onions draws a crowd beside batter-dipped onion rings and veggies. Vegetable, chicken corn, broccoli cheese, and cauliflower soups can accompany their pumpkin or berry funnel cake.
Carrot, celery, tomato juices and strawberry surprise slush fulfill the need to eat more produce.
In addition, PVGA offers their new veggie burger.
Pennsylvania’s No. 1 cash crop,, mushrooms, features the popular blended mushroom burger, along with mushroom soup, salad and breaded mushrooms.
Several other organizations as well stretch the Food Court. The PA Bee Keepers Association features honey and honey dishes; the PA Livestock Association prepares a wide choice of mouth-watering sandwiches; the PA Maple Syrup Producers Council excels with coated maple nuts, candy, sugars and of course, maple syrup; the State Horticultural Association offers apple dumplings, cherry pie with ice cream, and more apple dishes; and the PA FFA Foundation serves a multitude of pizza toppings.
Throughout the week, races and demonstrations enliven speed horses, rodeos, draft horse hitch, sheep herding, horse and pony pulling, and events such as how to pour concrete, arrange flowers, bath and clip dogs, build bluebird houses, and tree stand safety.
Also, tractor square dancing, and the square dance and celebrating milking, bid calling, and more competitions remain popular each Show.
Because times and events may change, visitors should check the schedule at the Farm Show website, farmshow.pa.gov.
Admission is free. Parking is $15 at Farm Show complex lots, and a free shuttle for managed off-site lots is available. For concessions and parking, a credit card is required.