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2015 Pennsylvania Farm Show Opening Day

This is an article from the 2015 Farm Show, the 2020 show runs January 4th-11th. 
In January, in what you would expect to be one of the most boring months in Pennsylvania, farmers from all over the commonwealth come to the state capital in Harrisburg and exhibit their prized livestock, crops, and agricultural products in what is one of the coolest events that I know of. We go whenever we get the chance to visit. When I grew up in Allentown, my parents would take our family to the festivities every year. Living in Pittsburgh, Brit and I decided to make the long drive to visit on Saturday. The event runs until Sunday, January 18th.

In regards to agricultural expositions held in many other states, Pennsylvania did not want to hold a large State Fair. The state wanted to create a large and indoor complex where the weather would remain unchanged, and farmers could gather to discuss issues in the least busy time of the year. The PA Farm Show was created as more of a trade show, as opposed to a large festival. It quickly grew and has continued to grow during each annual exposition.

This is the large arena building. It dates back to the 1930s. 
The designs adorning the top of the building are really intricate and show the importance of the agricultural industry in Pennsylvania. Even during the times that the Bethlehem and US Steel companies were flourishing and coal was booming, agriculture still was king. It is still argued that agriculture is the state's top industry today. With industry coming and going from Pennsylvania, and cities built in the Rust Belt facing their own sets of struggles, including Pittsburgh, Erie, New Castle, McKeesport, Duquesne, Altoona, Johnstown, Bethlehem, Reading, and Allentown, farming has remained steady. Regardless of new technologies and industrial fads, we all still need to eat. From the founding of Pennsylvania, agriculture has sustained the state's economy. The Pennsylvania Farm Show is a great place to go and see the best that the state has to offer in agriculture.
 As we arrived at the exhibition, the Pennsylvania High School Rodeo was letting out. 
The Farm Show Complex Arena, built in the 1930s, is one of the oldest remaining arenas in the country. It is a no frills building, but it has a sort of charm that you cannot quite put your finger on. Maybe it is the joy of the people in the building, and thinking about the thousands of farmers that have showed off their best livestock over the many years of this building's existence. This building does not have the fabled history of a place like Philly's Palestra, the building that has held the most NCAA games, or the Hersheypark Arena that was the home of Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game, but this place holds its own. 
The opening ceremonies were not underway yet.
  This antique scoreboard is pretty cool. I am not sure of when it dates back to.
 While country music is not my cup of tea, this banjo player was really good.
 The ceremonies are now underway and Governor Corbett was beginning his goodbye tour. He made history as the state's first modern one term governor. I am excited to see Governor Wolf open up the ceremonies next year.
 The state police did a cool demonstration with the police horses. I know you are probably wondering how this could be exciting.
I have to say that it was pretty neat though. They showed the many different maneuvers they have taught these strong horses to do to keep the state safe.
 They did a demonstration of the methods they use for crowd control in the case of riots. This demonstration showed how this is probably the safest method of crowd control. The rioters had signs representing the different professional teams around the state.
 They even brought out an old police cruiser and acted as if the rioters were trying to flip it over.
Corbett was about to speak, so it was time to go and get some food at the food court! The organizations for the different agricultural producers in the state have stands selling different specialties. The Pennsylvania Livestock Association has different pork and beef specialties. The Dairymen had their famous milkshakes, glasses of milk, and cheese products, among other things. There was also a stand that represented different companies such as Hatfield Pork, Alderfer Meats, and Martin's Rolls. There are also stands from other representative associations including: honey, mushroom, maple syrup, apple, and potato products. This is always a highlight with tons of delicious and cheap food.
 Now onto the animal displays. Lots of cows!
 Mama and calf?
Sheep! There are also chickens, ducks, rabbits, and more. There are thousands of animals brought by hundreds of different farms and organizations, such as the 4H Club, a great organization that helps youth learn leadership skills, farming skills, and the value of hard work. I would like to see even more youth join this great program and learn great citizenship skills. 
In the main exhibition hall, there are many vendors set up representing organizations and small businesses throughout the state. One of the state's finest businesses, Knoebels Amusement Resort, was one of the exhibitors.
 The Pennsylvania Showmen's Association, the association of affiliated carnival companies, has a gorgeous Art Deco styled, Herschel Carousel that dates back to the 1940s.
 There are also stands for every fruit, squash, and vegetable category you can think of. Almost anything that can be farmed in the state is represented in one way or another at this exhibition.
In each category in which there are exhibitions, there is also judging and awards for the optimal hard work of the farmers. 

The state's growing wine industry was even represented, with awards going to wineries from every region of the state. On any given day, there are up to six wineries with representatives offering free tastings.
The famous annual butter sculpture centerpiece, made with roughly one thousand pounds butter, pays tribute to the hard work that dairy farmers put in daily to bring milk to market. The butter was donated by the local Land O' Lakes farm in Carlisle. The butter will then be put through a state of the art digester that will generate electricity at a dairy farm in nearby Juniata County. 
Here is a time-lapse video of the building process:

A favorite of mine is always the christmas tree competition. Many different pine species are represented from farms all over the commonwealth. Farm Show attendees even have the opportunity to vote for their favorite tree. 
 You know an event is important when the Philly Phanatic shows up!
 A vendor operated a tent where you can interact with hundreds of butterflies. This is one of Brit's favorite things.
There were also a number of other vendors with interactive exhibits like this. I tried mechanical bull riding for the first time in a competitive event the vendor was running. I lasted 5.4 seconds and needed to hit seven to win. Oh well! Anyways, the Farm Show is an awesome event that you should try to visit if you get the chance. We try to get to the farm show every year. It is even worth the three hour drive from Pittsburgh to enjoy the festivities. Definitely check it out if you get the chance!

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