Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pennsylvania's Celebration of Agriculture!

The 2010 PA Farm Show was once again a successful event! Half a million visitors attended this famous Pennsylvania affair. For those of you that do not know what the PA Farm Show is, let me explain.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show, which runs usually the first or second week of January in Harrisburg, is basically a celebration of Agriculture. Animals, equipment, entertainment, food, and agribusiness are just some of the things celebrated at the Farm Show. Farmers, city folk, politicians, VIP’s, and everyone in between gather at this event to learn, experience, and hear the story of agriculture. Over 300 commercial exhibits and 13,000 competitions are at the Farm Show. Farmers display every Pennsylvania grown agriculture product you can imagine from maple syrup, rabbits, and cattle, to mushrooms and Christmas trees. The event also has hands on activities like wheat weaving, quilting, lace crafting, cow milking contest, and so much more!

But the Farm Show wasn’t always the Farm Show. Here’s a little bit of history…William Penn actually established the first agricultural show and located it in Philadelphia. In 1820, Pennsylvania enacted a law to hold a formal annual agriculture event bringing together farmers in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. By 1851, Harrisburg was designated as the host of this event and was situated on 15 acres next to the Susquehanna River. 20,000 people attended to see the various exhibits and contests. Farmers brought what they thought was their best animals. They could also bring their crops to the show, such as wheat and tobacco. It was a huge success, enjoyed by many farmers! This show then started regional and county fairs and later people stopped attending the state event. For 16 years the state agriculture event was not held and then finally Henry E. Klugh, who worked for the Bureau of Animal Industry hosted the event in one of the buildings in downtown Harrisburg. The first PA State Farm Show was on January 23, 1917 and lasted three days. There were competitive farm exhibits, farm machinery, educational type sessions, and no admission. Over the years, the show grew and grew and by 1955, the Penn State President, Dr. Eisenhower proclaimed the PA State Farm Show as “the greatest show on earth”! Since that time, Farm Show has had many changes for the better. A bigger building, more exhibits, more events, and of course more people attending during the eight day event. Now the event is classified as the largest indoor agriculture and livestock event in the United States. A truly great honor to have this event right in my back door!

So why does everyone flock to the Farm Show? Is it tradition (my parents went, my grandparents attended, and my great grandparents attended)? Is it the food (sticky buns, roast beef sandwiches, milkshakes, apple dumplings, OH MY)? Is it because of the activities and shows (PA Iron Chef, Horse Cart Races, High School Rodeo, Beef cattle, hogs, sheep, dairy shows)? OR maybe it is because you heard from your friends that this is great family event! Whatever the reason, thousands flock to the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

I have been attending this gigantic event ever since I was baby. I live on a farm and for me it is a family tradition to attend this event. My family goes to gain more knowledge to bring back to the farm. From all the years attending this event, I have realized that it’s not just about the knowledge you bring home, it’s also about the other farmers/people you meet, the agriculture associations you learn about, and the enjoyable time you have at the show. I believe that the PA Farm Show has literally something for everyone! Whether you are a city folk, politician, farmer, or anyone else in-between, you are bound to learn something about agriculture.

Hope to see YOU at the 2011 celebration of Pennsylvania agriculture!

Below enjoy a slideshow of photos taken at the 2010 PA State Farm Show.

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