Thousands of people are expected to converge on Harrisburg for the 96th Pennsylvania Farm Show, set for Saturday through Jan. 14 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.
The eight-day show, the largest indoor agricultural exhibition in the nation, will feature 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors.
"We are expecting more than 400,000 visitors. It is a family friendly place to go during the winter when not much else is going on," Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Nicole Bucher said. "It is just a family tradition, people will go there, that is just what you do during the first week in January."
Mirror photos by Patrick Waksmunski
Victoria Caretti of Patton shears her Boer cross goat “Ford” at the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. This year’s Farm Show begins Saturday.
At the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show, environmental educator Brock Benson of Altoona displays a golden eagle at the Shaver’s Cree Environmental Center booth.
The purpose of the farm show is to celebrate the state's agriculture industry.
"The Pennsylvania Farm Show provides a unique opportunity to showcase the great work being done by the state's more than 63,000 farm families to produce quality and safe agricultural products," Agriculture Secretary George Greig said in a statement. "Whether it's the thousands of animals, exciting competitions or delicious food, the Farm Show is affordable, educational and fun for Pennsylvanians of any age."
Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Pennsylvania and generates about $57 billion in economic impact, Bucher said.
If you go
What: 96th Pennsylvania Farm Show
When: The show runs 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday through Jan. 13 and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 14.
Where: The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is accessible from Interstate 81.
Cost: Admission is free, and parking is $10.
"Agriculture effects everybody's lives three times a day, from the food you eat to the clothes you wear. It is a time to pause and celebrate agriculture," she said.
The farm show is geared to more than those just engaged in farming.
"The farm show has turned into an educational tool for young and old, agriculture or nonagriculture, there is something for every Pennsylvanian," Bucher said. "Everybody should experience the Pennsylvania Farm Show at least once in their lives. It is beyond words."
The 96th farm show includes a few new attractions.
The farm show's food court will open a day early, starting at 4 p.m. Friday with free parking. In addition to longtime favorites, the food court will feature three new items: a PA Preferred pizza with Pennsylvania ingredients, grilled cheese sandwiches and tender barbecue brisket sandwiches.
As part of the complex renovations, the Family Living area in the main hall has been renovated to better showcase homemade food items and handmade wares, Bucher said.
Also new is a Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt where young and old can search for 22 historical markers throughout the complex and learn how Pennsylvania is the "Land of Penn and Plenty."
Another new feature is the Butterfly House where visitors can see and learn about butterflies for a small fee which supports Friends of Farm Show Foundation.
"Butterflies are important to agriculture as pollinators," Bucher said.
Some of the returning highlights include the Parade of Agriculture during the opening ceremonies on Saturday; the PA Preferred Culinary Connection which features cooking demonstrations and Bravo! TV's "Top Chef All Stars" contestant Mike Isabella; and traditional highlights such as the Sheep-to-Shawl contest, high school rodeo and tractor square dancing.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.