102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show
I just got back from attending the 102nd Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, PA and I had the best time! I love animals and joke all the time that I'd like to have Noah's Arc in my backyard (perhaps not including some of the reptiles and bugs...). Many of my family and friends say that I like animals more than I like people and I think they may be right. I mean, who can resist those furry ,sweet, adorable little babies?!
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is not only an animal lovers dream, but it is the nation’s largest indoor agricultural event, with over 5000,000 attendees and featuring 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits, and 300 commercial exhibitors. According to a report issued by the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau, the 2015 show had an estimated economic impact of $95 million to the south-central Pennsylvania region, supporting more than 18,000 jobs over the course of the week-long event.
Second to the adorable animals, the Food Court is one of the biggest attractions at the annual farm show, estimated to produce $2 million in sales annually. It's packed with Pennsylvania fair favorites likes potato doughnuts (it's a Pennsylvania thing), deep-fried mushrooms (did you know Pennsylvania is the mushroom capital?), fried-cheese bites, chocolate covered bacon, and the famous dairy milkshakes!
The Dairymen's Association helps raise awareness for Fill A Glass With Hope, a partnership between Feeding Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association, and American Dairy Association North East. The program connects Feeding Pennsylvania member food banks with their local dairies to purchase milk at a reduced rate for distribution to Pennsylvania families. That's a pretty good reason to have a milkshake if you ask me!
In 2016, the Dairymen’s Association used more than 19,000 gallons of milkshake mix and 450 gallons of ice cream and 4.1 tons of mozzarella cheese during the Farm Show. Wow! That's a lot of dairy!
Did you know that dairy supports 45,000 jobs in the Commonwealth? No wonder there were so many more cows than other animals!
Every year the PA Farm Show unveils a butter sculpture with a different theme. This year 1,000lbs of butter was transformed by butter artist Jim Victor. After the farm show, the butter will be hauled out to a local farm with a manure digester and the butter will help feed the digester and create energy.
They make the sculpture out of wire and then cover in butter.
So, obviously the PA Farm Show has food and butter sculptures covered, but it wouldn’t be a farm show without animals and activities! Because the show has so many animal exhibitors they have to split up the shows up.
We saw cows (lots of cows!), sheep, goats, alpacas, horses, chickens, ducks, rabbits. Sadly, we missed the pigs. They went home the day before. So, be sure to check the schedule if you have your heart set on a particular animal.
Looks at this guy's awesome underbite! Hey you, I see you 'smiling' at me!
Well, hello there!
Dirty little cuties!
Careful! This little Giant bites!
This guy had something to say - sound on!
And these feathered feet were so cool!
My favorite animals were the adorable babies.
There were twin calves, named Aaron and Brooke, born at 6:30am they day we were there.
Sad they had to be removed from their mama so she could be milked :( But that's the life of a farm animal.
Look at these three cute kids! I just wanted to pick one up and take it with us.
These little piggies were so cute. Mama must have been dreaming of going to market since her little feet were running while she slept and her babies ate.
This little 5 day old orphaned lamb was sweetest of all!
The enormous amount of work and care that the families who present their livestock put into their animals is evident.
There were tons of retailers! So many I couldn't document them for this post. The vendors offer things from services, to gourmet foods and creations, to clothing, etc... Hours of fun shopping!
You can view the full schedule of events HERE.
What's new at the show in 2018?
**The Meatball Showdown pits junior chefs against one another to see who is the fastest meatball maker in the West. West of the Atlantic, that is ;)
**Rabbits make their debut in the Jr. Livestock sale. I was lucky enough to see the bunny jumping demonstration - so cute! Can't believe how high these big thumpers can jump!
**Calving Corner will make its debut this year, offering show-goers the opportunity to witness the miracle of birth. Sadly, there were no calves born while we were in attendance. Maybe you will be lucky enough to see the miracle of life at your visit!
**Hard Cider Competition. I LOVE hard cider. It's one of the few alcoholic beverages I can tolerate after my battle with Lyme disease. It's no surprise that cider should be included in the show. Pennsylvania was ranked # 6 in cider producers throughout the nation in 2017. I am thrilled that cider is gaining popularity in the Mid-Atlantic area. Twenty-six competitors entered their hard ciders in the competition. Looks like Big Hill cider had many winners!
**Free-style Bull Fighting is also new this year, but only featured on Thursday and Friday so we missed it.
Specifically for the Kiddos -
Make it and take it. If you plan on heading over to the Farm Show with little ones during the week, try planning your visit to be there between noon and 2 pm. At that time, the Family Living department will offer a different item that kids can make and take home with them. Just so you know, the Family Living department is the one that hosts all the show's food and craft competitions — like the Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Contest.
AgExplorers and scavenger hunts. Sponsored by Turkey Hill, you can find 24 historic Pennsylvania learning stations set up around the show offering fun, interactive, and hands-on learning for the whole family. Your kiddos will learn things like where milk comes from, how important bees are to us and the food we eat, and how much can be grown on an acre of farmland. There are maps to guide your little "AgExplorers" through the stations. Just look for stations marked with the AgExplore logo. Stations are staffed 9am - 7pm daily. Visit the PHMC booth in the Main Hall to pick up a scavenger hunt booklet, then have fun!
The show runs through January 13th. Admission is free, but you will have to pay $15 for parking.
We attended mid-week and it was still very busy. If you decide to stay overnight in downtown Harrisburg, there is a free round-trip shuttle on weekdays between 11am - 2pm. But I personally do not think this would be enough time to explore the show. We were there ALL day taking everything in.
Parking Tips -
There are two Farm Show offsite parking lots that offer a free shuttle to the complex every day of the show.
1. East of the complex at the intersection of Elmerton Avenue and Sycamore Street
2. Harrisburg Area Community College Parking lot on Wildwood Drive
There is a coat check service available in the lobby, but I braved the cold for the short shuttle ride so I didn't have to deal with the coat check lines or carry around my bulky coat. I was fine walking around inside in my sweater and puffer vest. At least it's warmed up for the last few days of the show!
I know for most of us, we are not planning any travels or vacations right now after winding down from the Holidays. Many of us are content to stay at home and relax. However, if you live close enough that you could swing a quick day trip the show is totally worth it! Both kiddos and adults will enjoy. There is so much to see! And if you miss it in 2018, there is always next January...