WOW! As luck would have it, the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show began just 4 days after we moved to Pennsylvania. As soon as I heard about this event, I knew it was going to be the first experience in our attempt to enjoy 100 adventures!
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the nation’s LARGEST indoor agricultural expo. If you are from Houston, think about a farm-themed Nutcracker Market–add live animals, contests, and competitions–and then multiple the size by 200. That *might* actually be accurate math.
Consisting of 24 indoor acres, housed in 11 buildings and including 3 arenas, the Farm Show represents just a tiny slice of the Pennsylvania farming industry. There are 10,000 competitive exhibits, 6,000 animals and 300 commercial exhibits, as well as an enormous food court serviced by 2,000 volunteers.
**Super cool extra fact: The first Pennsylvania Farm Show was held in 1917.
Honestly, it would take me a month to write about all of the amazing events, animals, booths, shops, snacks, and people we encountered, so I will highlight just a few of our favorites.
The 2018 Historical Maker Scavenger Hunt immediately caught my homeschooling momma’s eyes. Replicas of actual Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission historical markers are placed around the enormous Farm Show complex. Readable text on the markers provide information relating to agriculture and rural heritage.
**Super cool extra fact: There are 2,000 authentic markers throughout the state of Pennsylvania. We hope to find some!
Several booths are dedicated to the unwanted spreading and impact of the Spotted Lanternfly. Native to China, India and Vietnam, this insect attacks grapes, fruit trees and pines. The insects first invaded the United States just 4 short years ago. Last year, only 5 Pennsylvania counties found infestations. This year, 13 counties are aggressively fighting the invasive species.
The vegetables! The gourds! The mushrooms! The fruit! Seriously, what can I say about the breathtaking beauty of these gifts from Pennsylvania farms?
Just look at the pictures!
With 6,000 animals, the Pennsylvania Farm Show’s livestock exhibits rival the world’s most popular zoos. Countless isles display hundreds of diverse varieties and species. We enjoyed seeing and learning about unique hens, roosters, ducks, rabbits, cows, sheep, and alpacas. My youngest daughter milked a mechanical cow and was allowed to pet a rabbit and a black angus.
Almost all of the food vendors offer delicious samples. We tasted creamy dips, spicy BBQ sauces, hot garlic pickles, sweet dessert pies, rich maple syrups, sour fruit drinks, mustards, ghee, cinnamon nuts, warm pretzels, and marinated chicken. The best part of our indulgence of these mouth-watering samples was the fact that every vendor represents a Pennsylvania farm and local business.
While we made our way around the sample offerings, I met many interesting, friendly and passionate people. One woman makes stroopie, a Dutch cinnamon waffle cookie with caramel syrup hand-spread between two wafers. The Stroopie Co. empowers and provides meaningful employment to refugees resettling in Pennsylvania. We plan to visit where the cookies are made and hopefully take a tour of the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe.
***Added: After the Farm Show, I emailed the owner of The Stroopie Co. and she graciously invited me and my daughters to visit and learn all about the social enterprise at The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe. Read all about that amazing experience (our #7 adventure!) by clicking here!
Spoonably Sweet is another interesting booth. The chef told us how she “invented” her creation by accident, while trying to make something else. I LOVE happy (and DELICIOUS) accidents! Spoonable cookie dough can be used as a dessert topping, a pastry spread or eaten directly with a spoon! She creates vegan options, too! Um…yes, please!
Last, but not least, there is a butter sculpture. That’s right.
Everyone should experience butter artwork.
I wish my writing skills flowed with lightning speed so I could tell you everything about the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Hopefully, this little blog post will offer a tiny taste of an amazing experience that is available year after year, if you ever find yourself in the great state of Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, off of Exit 67 of Interstate 81.
Admission is FREE, but parking is $15 per vehicle. Bring cash.
The 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show runs January 6-13, 2018.
Plan to visit the 103rd show–January 5-12, 2019.
For more information, visit www.farmshow.pa.gov
Other cool things to do in Pennsylvania?
Check out the Lancaster Central Market–the oldest farmers market in the country! Read about it here!
Learn how to twist pretzels at the first commercial pretzel bakery–Julius Sturgis! Read about it here!
Traveling to Virginia soon?
Check out the Edgar Allan Poe Museum! Click here!
And, visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, too! Click here!