A Farm Show guide for newbies

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 01/06, 2016 at 02:54 PM

A Farm Show guide for newbies

Impressive butter sculptures like this one at the 2015 Farm Show are among the many attractions visitors will find

Pennsylvania has a long agricultural history. The Nittany Valley was originally settled due to the rich farm land in the area, and Penn State was founded as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania in 1855. In fact, one of the images one thinks of when they think of Pennsylvania is the Amish farmer in Lancaster County, an image exploited by the tourist industry. So, it’s no wonder that one of the main events of the year in our state is the Pennsylvania Farm Show, held Jan. 8-16 in at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. This year is special, as The Farm Show celebrates its 100th year.

If you’ve never been to the Farm Show, it’s definitely worth the trip. You likely have at least a little bit of interest in farming given you’re reading this blog, and the Farm Show basically is all of Pennsylvania’s agriculture world in one place for an entire week. The event is also very family friendly and kids love it; I can remember how much I liked going as a kid, and grew up in an urban environment in York.

It can be a little overwhelming; this is not a small event by any means and the Farm Show Complex is rather sprawling. So, how to tackle a day at the Farm Show? Here’s some tips to help you get the most out of your Farm Show experience:

- Parking and traffic: Go into it assuming you are going to deal with a lot of traffic, both motor and pedestrian. Pretty much like any other big event. PennDOT puts out signs guiding you to parking lots, and they are good guides. Parking is $15 on Farm Show lots, but there are two nearby lots off-site. One thing that’s pretty important: write down somewhere the location of your vehicle after parking. You don’t want to wander around in the chill with fussy kids trying to find your car.

- The basics of what to do and see: There are so many events and things to see at The Farm Show it’s impossible to outline them all here. First things first, I highly recommend printing out this map before going, so you know where the three arenas and the halls are located. Then, it’s a good idea to look at both the daily schedule (and maybe print that out as well), including recurring events and events specific to that particular day. You can find that here. As for everything else, I recommend wandering around the halls; you’ll likely find something that interests you.

- Food…come hungry: Lunch (or dinner) at The Farm Show Food Court definitely needs to be part of the trip, especially if you are a local food enthusiast. Among the items The Farm Show is famous for are giant, tasty baked potatoes from the PA Cooperative Potato Growers, milkshakes-to-die-for at the PA Dairymen’s Association’s booth, and the ribeye steak sandwich from the Pennsylvania Cattleman’s Association. Vegetarians and those trying to hold onto New Year’s resolutions can find a delicious and healthy mushroom salad with button mushrooms, julienned carrots, celery, and herb-infused dressing at the Pennsylvania Mushroom Growers Cooperative.

- Educational activities for the kids: Really, the entire event is a giant educational opportunity. As I’ve noted during my visits, everyone is pretty open to explaining things to children. But the Farm Show AgExplorer and the PHMC Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt are two fantastic and fun activities for children. Learn more about these activities on the education page of the Farm Show Web site.

Tags: FarmShow | guide |

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick

Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA

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