HARRISBURG - Some state legislators will be hoofing it around the show ring at the 2010 Pennsylvania Farm Show.
The Legislative Dairy Showmanship Contest is new to the farm show this year. Coor-dinated by the state's Center for Dairy Excellence, it partners legislators with their constituents who are exhibiting dairy cattle at the show. State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, and Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Berlin, will participate.
"It's an effort to help [legislators] understand what dairy farmers are going through," state Agriculture Department spokeswoman Jean Kummer said. "Hopefully, they'll learn a little bit more about the dairy industry and why we need it here in Pennsylvania."
Mirror file photo by Gary M. Baranec
Keith Fisher of New Enterprise leads a Jersey cow through the Farm Show Complex at the 2009 Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Twelve state legislators will participate in the contest, which begins at 4 p.m. Jan. 13, Kummer said. Eichelberger said he was approached by the state Agricul-ture department and was looking forward to the contest. He said he was told the legislators will be showing calves.
"It'll be a good experience for me," he said. "It'll be interesting to handle the animal."
While he's never shown a cow before, Eichelberger said he has worked on farms and participated in several celebrity milking contests. He's never won, but he's placed third twice at the Huntingdon County Fair.
If you go
What: 94th Pennsylvania Farm Show
When: Saturday through Jan. 16
Where: Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday through Jan. 15; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 16
Cost: Admission is free; parking is $10
For a complete schedule of events, visit http://www. farmshow.state.pa.us
"One time, I got kicked twice during the milking," Eichelber-ger said. "You always have to be concerned, have to be vigilant around these dairy animals."
Metzgar, on the other hand, said he isn't nervous. He grew up on a cattle farm, though he never showed the animals.
"It'll just be nice to get out there with the kids and spend some time there," he said. "It's something I missed in my childhood, and I'm glad I get to share it with other kids."
The day before the dairy show, Metzgar will host an agricultural policy hearing on dairy pricing issues in the state at 10 a.m. at the Berlin Community Center.
"It's nice to go and do the shows, but there is hard work and big decisions to make with the dairy problems in the past year," Metzgar said.
This year's farm show theme is "Keep Pennsylvania Growing," which offers exhibits for every member of the family, Kummer said.
The annual butter sculpture will return, as will the Sheep-to-Shawl contest and the high school rodeo.
The Family Living department will host its usual bevy of baking contests, from the Hershey's Cocoa Classic Baking Contests and Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Contest.
The food court will offer perennial farm show favorites, like milk shakes, barbecue beef sandwiches and deep-fried mozzarella cubes.
A puppet show and musical series have been added to the farm show, Kummer said, to share the story of agriculture in a fun, engaging way for visitors of all ages.
The PA Preferred Culinary Connection will bring several celebrity chefs to the Farm Show Complex, including Eli Kirshstein from "Bravo! Top Chef Las Vegas" and Howard Helmer, "World's Fastest Omelet Maker."
The PA Iron Chef Champions' Challenge and PA Preferred Best Burger Showdown will showcase the best of Pennsylvania-produced foods in two separate competitions.
Mirror Staff Writer Ashley Gurbal is at 946-7435.