Farm Show theme unveiled

Announcement held at Loretto’s Vale Wood Farms

Mirror photo by Calem Illig Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding (left) speaks with Garret McCall, who created a 35-pound sculpture made entirely of butter, during a preview for the 2022 Farm Show Tuesday at Vale Wood Farms in Loretto.

LORETTO — State farm leaders converged at Vale Wood Farms on Thursday to unveil plans for the upcoming 106th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The event will be held in-person this January after being held virtually in 2021, and Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding said 2022’s show focuses on “Harvesting More.”

“We have tools this year that we didn’t have last year,” Redding said. “We have masks, social distancing and awareness. These are tools we are now equipped with and can use this year. Last year was a difficult year and a difficult decision for us. We’re really happy to be able to come together this year and celebrate Pennsylvania’s biggest industry.”

The 106th annual Farm Show is planned for Saturday, Jan. 8 through Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg.

The event will be held in-person with well over 100,000 visitors expected, and a virtual experience will also be available, Redding said.

Next year’s event will include agricultural demonstrations, competitions and hands-on learning opportunities.

Carissa Itle Westrick, director of business development at Vale Wood Farms, said her family has been actively involved with previous farm shows.

After only being able to participate virtually this past year, she is looking forward to connecting with both producers and consumers.

“It creates an opportunity for so many consumers that have that one-on-one experience with Pennsylvania agriculture,” Westrick said. “We’re just so proud to have the opportunity to connect with consumers in that big of an arena.”

Next year’s theme of “Harvesting More” was churned up by a local artist.

Garret McCall of New Germany got his first taste of agriculture after crafting a 5-pound sculpture for the 2021 Farm Show’s inaugural “Butter Up!” competition.

McCall took first place at this year’s competition, and he was commissioned by farm show organizers to create a 30-pound sculpture of next year’s logo.

Using butter from Vale Wood farms, McCall spent 30 hours in a walk-in refrigerator to formulate the sculpture, and it was unveiled to the public Thursday.

“It was a little labor intensive,” McCall said. “You learn the tricks after you’re working with butter long enough. It was challenging, but it was a lot of fun.”

The theme of “Harvesting More” highlights the efforts of local farmers to continue to provide food to the table during COVID-19.

“Farmers didn’t get any virtual days, but we did have to adjust and figure things out like everyone else,” Westrick said. “Customers were changing in real time, and some of our delivery methods were changing. But we were happy to still have that opportunity and deliver fresh milk and dairy products to our consumers.”

Farmers admitted that the effects of COVID-19 created a difficult atmosphere.

But with a direct need to serve their consumers, farmers adapted to additional demand, worker shortages, mitigation restrictions and other struggles to continue to serve consumers.

“We all experienced less last year, but now is a time for more,” Redding said. “Not only more of what we went without last year, but more of what we need to be successful in the agriculture industry.”

Redding said there is a bright future for farming, adding that the agricultural industry has boomed to more than $130 billion.

With a goal of harvesting more, he believes the industry can continue to thrive.

“This is really a celebration of the future,” Redding said. “I’m really proud of what’s happened and what we’re doing, but there’s more. We look forward to harvesting more in Pennsylvania in 2022.”

Mirror Staff Writer Calem Illig is at 814-946-7535.


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