Recently our family traveled to Pennsylvania to spend time with extended family and friends. While we were there, we attended the Pennsylvania State Farm Show. The event is held in Harrisburg, the capital city. According to the pamphlet, the Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the United States. Its 100th anniversary was being celebrated this year.
The Farm Show attracts both the farmers and the city folk and features farm animals (cows, horses, rabbits, sheep, goats and more), displays of tractors and equipment, 4H projects, and agricultural commodities (apples, honey, maple syrup, potatoes, etc.). The crowning glory is the butter sculpture which takes days to carve and is a different figure every year. You can ride the carousel, watch animals being shown and judged, attend a rodeo, or sit in on a cooking demonstration, to name just a few of the available activities. In the large food court, you can buy a meal or snack made out of Pennsylvania products. My favorite is the PA State Beekeepers booth which offers honey-sweetened ice cream and waffles. Once upon a time, I was the State Honey Queen and helped to staff the booth.
Having grown up on a dairy farm, I have attended the show a number of times; and I would venture to say, most farmers take their families at some point. If you want to experience Pennsylvania farm culture, it is the place to go. Since living in a place other than the one I was raised, aspects of my culture stand out: the FFA (Future Farmers of America) students in their blue jackets and skirts or dress pants, the unique and varied accents of rural Pennsylvania voices, the farmer’s caps advertising anything from seed corn to tractors, the smells and sights of the farm animals, the wide variety of produce available, the hustle and bustle of hard-working farmers.
Farm Show week is notorious for cold and wintry weather; but this year, we were blessed with mild temperatures. We attended with my parents and niece and nephew. After arriving, we made our way to the large arena to watch old-time tractors square dance. There is a caller and music and four sets of tractors. The “female” tractor in each set is identified by a skirt on the seat. The drivers perform all the traditional square dance moves like “do-si-do” and “promenade.” The kids were fascinated.
We moved on to observing the animals and inspecting some of the displays.
Coming from a long heritage of farming on both sides of my family, I was glad our children were able to experience a small taste of it. For them, the day was full of new sights, sounds, and smells as they attended a showcase of Pennsylvania farming.