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1.09.2017

2017 Pennsylvania Farm Show: The 101st Edition of one of PA's Finest Traditions

The 2017 Pennsylvania Farm Show was the 101st edition of what I believe is one of this state's finest traditions.  For more in depth analysis of the background and history of this fun celebration of our state's largest and most important industry, check out these articles from our 2015 and 2016 visits to the show. Visiting the farm show is one of the highlights of our year, and well worth the drive from Pittsburgh. 

Every January more than half a million people from every corner of the state and around the country make the journey to the farm show as exhibitors and visitors. In many ways, the fair is a celebration of hard work. Farmers bring their prized livestock, such as cows, sheep, pigs, horses, rabbits, alpacas, peacocks, chickens, turkeys, waterfowl, and more, along with fruit, vegetable, nut, tree, and mushroom farmers bringing their respective crops to be judged by experts. The end result is a twenty-four acre indoor complex filled with the pride and joy of some of the hardest working Pennsylvanians. 
The butter sculpture is always a huge draw. Each year, a ton of butter is transformed into something representing the yearly theme of the farm show. This year's theme was stewardship, with a focus upon responsible soil amendments and runoff management. To get technical for a minute, this theme is especially relevant considering the growing issue of toxic algal blooms in watersheds that is largely caused by phosphorous and nitrogen runoff from farming. With better controls upon this, everyone wins. Water polluted with algal blooms can lead to serious illness or death to both people and livestock. Thankfully, awareness is being gained, and action is being taken in regards to this issue, since clean water is absolutely critical. This year's theme is very important and it is great to see this issue front and center. The efforts of our farmers for the betterment of our state are greatly appreciated.
Here you can see the winning nut entries. The aroma from this year's crops is awesome. One of the joys of visiting show is getting to talk to the farmers at the displays. It is so easy to take their efforts for granted and it is great talking with them to hear their stories and to let them know that their work is greatly appreciated. 
The plethora of entries in the apple category. I was sure to have some cider in tow at all times as we walked around the show.
The show's food court has good eats that are prepared by representatives from each of the major agricultural trade groups in the state. This includes the State Horticultural Association, whose apple farmers brought me my cider, and the PA Mushroom Growers Cooperative, who made these delicious fried mushrooms. Other trade groups include the PA Bee Keepers Association, PA Cooperative Potato Growers, PA Dairymen's Association, PA Livestock Association, PA Maple Syrup Producers, PA Vegetable Growers, and more.
Here is the family, with yours truly located on the other side of the camera. We always have to have the great milkshakes, delicious roast beef sandwiches with fresh horseradish, fried mushrooms, fresh cider, and maple cotton candy. Then we work our way out to the other stuff. The best thing about the food court, aside from the phenomenal food, is how affordable everything is.
If you have not noticed yet, I was especially taken with the apple cider! The apple butter, caramel apples, and apple turnovers were pretty solid too!
A rider heading out from the High School Rodeo in the Large Arena. The rodeos in the arena are always very popular and a huge highlight of the show.
Peacocks!
Cows!
And more cows!
Bunnies!
And Alpacas!
And more bunnies! Brit was ecstatic about the bunny petting areas.  This rex bunny was beautiful and while it had different coloring, its body looked like a twin of our own rex.
And another Alpaca! They even did demonstrations where they spun alpaca yarn.
Knoebels made their yearly appearance at the farm show. This year they sponsored the ever popular butterfly farm, and they even offered free milkweed seeds to grow and help the butterfly population.
The winery demonstrations were some of the most popular of the show, with many people thirsting for a chance to judge the wines for themselves. Eight different wineries offer free samples of their products and have them up for sale on any given day. The formal judging happened on Friday.
Some of the veggies!
It is always nice seeing the many entries in the Christmas Tree competition. The aroma of the trees is always so pleasant. In this display, the top favorites are picked by the panel of judges, and then they let the visitors vote on which tree they like the best. I always love this section because it is like Pennsylvania's second little Christmas. 
Lots of gourds!
And Pumpkins!
The mushroom displays are a relative newcomer to the show and they are always a blast to check out. It is neat seeing how many different varieties of mushrooms grow.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania had this awesome relief of a petroglyph that is on a boulder along the Allegheny River at Parkers Landing in Clarion County. When I think of indian petroglyphs, places in the southwest, such as in the Moab area of Utah and places in Colorado immediately come to mind. Seeing those at places like Arches National Park, and in the cliff dwellings is one of the highlights of my travels. There are not many sites within Pennsylvania with well preserved petroglyphs, and I am glad that this relief was taken to ensure that these designs remain preserved.
What state fair exhibition would be complete without a carousel? This beautiful old Herschel carousel is pleasant to see.
They even have waterfowl at the show!
And Turkeys!

Seeing different antique farm equipment is always a highlight for me.
Chickens!
I can never get enough apples!
Here are the winners! It is always amazing to see how immaculate the entries are. I would imagine that it is pretty tough to pick winners when there are this many great entries.
It is always such a joy to visit the farm show, and we highly recommend that you do the same. My family has visited almost every year because it is such a great tradition within this state. Seeing the results of hard work for farmers across the state is so pleasant and inspiring. These farmers sacrifice so much in order to feed people around the world. Agriculture has long been the number one industry within this great state and seeing everyone come together for this exhibition is truly amazing. There is nothing else quite like the farm show, and it is one of the finest traditions in the state, and the highlight of the winter months for us. It runs through this Saturday, so be sure to check it out.

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