HARRISBURG Amidst a bit of redesign and reconstruction at the state farm show complex in the capital city, the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show, set to begin Saturday, could bring in as many as 500,000 visitors in its 95th year.
"We're trying to make it a wonderful experience for everyone who comes," Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Deputy Press Secretary Jean Kummer said. "There's something that will attract every interest, from kids to adults alike."
Perennial favorites like the Sheep to Shawl contest and Farm Show Detectives as well as several livestock, baking and other agricultural contests will return to the weeklong event.
Mirror file photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Jaymee Heeter, 11, of Shade Gap in Huntingdon County cleans her stall at the 2010 Pennsylvania Farm Show at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.
The detectives event for children has 22 stops throughout the 24-acre, 11-building site with topics ranging from bees to food safety and information on unique animals like alpacas. Elementary-age children can collect stamps from each station and are randomly entered into a Turkey Hill contest, with a grand prize of a year's worth of ice cream.
"That's definitely fun," Kummer said. "Each station is very interactive."
One of those stations and one of the highlights of any trip to the show is the large butter sculpture, although this year the prized item will be kept in a new octagonal case offering a 360-degree view of the creation. It is in a new location this year, too, near the new commodity displays section in the Main Hall.
"We've sort of redesigned the layout of the Main Hall," Kummer said, describing a new commodity exhibits display feature vegetables, fruit and other Pennsylvania-produced items. "We're doing a lot of reconstruction on the farm show complex. I think it's just an update for the complex as a whole. We're really trying to showcase the whole complex, not just the farm show."
The farm show is the largest indoor show under one roof in the entire country. This year is a mixture of celebration of the past eight years under the Gov. Edward Rendell administration and hope and excitement for Gov.-elect Tom Corbett taking over, Kummer said.
A new Parade of Agriculture will take place during opening ceremonies Saturday and is a way to highlight the importance and diversity of agriculture to the state.
"They used to do that in the early days of agriculture," Kummer said. "I think it will be pretty neat."