ROCK SPRINGS - Visitors to Penn State's Ag Progress Days next week will find a record number of exhibitors.
"Last year we had 485, and we could go to over 490. We put six exhibitors on East Seventh Street, and we've never had them there before," said Bob Oberheim, Ag Progress Days manager. "Our show site and exhibit buildings are about maxed out."
Sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences, the event will be held Aug. 13-15 at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Admission and parking are free.
Kevin Tempus takes the reins of a six-horse Belgian Draft Horse Hitch from Sunn Hill Farm, owned by the Sandoe family of Myerstown, at Ag Progress Day in 2012.
Shannon Kane of Orrstown catches his son, Shay, 3, from the ladder of a Gleaner S77 Tritura combine made in England.
Last year, about 42,000 people attended Ag Progress Days and Oberheim said he expects that many or more this year.
The purpose of Ag Progress Days is to bring the agricultural producer and the commercial industry together. It's also for the college of Agricultural Sciences to showcase the many areas of research and expertise it has for producers and the general public, Oberheim said.
The variety at Ag Progress Days will appeal to a wide audience.
"Pennsylvania has a very diverse agricultural industry, and we try to make the event reflect that," Oberheim said. "Visitors are sure to find something relevant to them, whether they operate a dairy or livestock farm, grow fruits or vegetables, produce wood products or tend a garden."
The three-day event provides one-stop shopping for producers. Interactive educational exhibits, guided tours and workshops will highlight the latest science-based practices.
The event is not just for those involved in production agriculture.
"Through fun and educational activities, consumers and families can learn about how their food is produced, how they can improve their health and nutrition, and how Penn State agricultural research and extension programs help ensure a safe and abundant food supply while minimizing environmental impact," Oberheim said.
A new field demonstration this year will feature hay mergers and choppers. Returning machinery demonstrations will feature hay mowing, hay rakes and tedders, hay baling, bale handling and a new cover-crop interseeder developed by Penn State scientists.
Other planned activities and attractions include family living exhibits; food demonstrations; a corn maze; horse exhibitions and clinics; wildlife displays; children's activities; exhibits of antique farm and home implements in the expanded Pasto Agricultural Museum; and a wide variety of food booths.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has planned numerous activities, including fun and learning opportunities for young visitors, along with information on a wide variety of agricultural issues as part of Ag Progress Days.
"Ag Progress Days is a highlight of the summer for many farm families because it offers an opportunity for farmers to learn more about new advances in agriculture and technology, obtain updated information on key issues impacting their businesses and the chance to reconnect with other farmers and friends from across Pennsylvania," said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer in a statement.
Oberheim has some advice for first-time visitors to Ag Progress Days.
"Figure on coming for two days to take in all the show and to take in some of the many very interesting tours we have this year. There's definitely something for everyone at this show," Oberheim said.
Ag Progress Days hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 13; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 14; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 15.