It was August 1916 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania that a group of men met to organize the Pennsylvania Farm Show. It was never thought this gathering would become an event to be envied by those in Ohio, New York and Texas. The group was actually looking to form a trade show for Pennsylvania farmers, growers and breeders.
The show grew to be the largest agricultural event in America. Actually, agriculture is the state’s largest industry. In the beginning the event was held in a different place each year, finally settling in Harrisburg. The PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center was built in Harrisburg. This complex, which houses 24 acres under roof in 11 buildings, includes three show arenas.
Besides the Farm Show, the complex is used for an additional 200 events and presentations during the year.
Farmers and non-farmers are drawn worldwide to this atmosphere of “All Things Agricultural” and related products. It would be difficult to list all events offered. The best is to go online, and I am sure there is at least one event if not more to be of interest to everyone. The very best is that all events and exhibits are free to all attending, adults and children alike.
The show is always the second week in January for eight days (this year Jan. 9 through 16). I am not sure, but I think this has become a winter event because it is a non-peak period on the home front. Farmers, their staff and their families have a little more time to prepare and participate after the harvest.
The show has moved up with the times. Free wireless internet access became available in 2009 covering the entire complex. It has the largest WiFi network in the east. In 2010 and 2011, the complex went green. Since 2008, the show has been televised for 140 hours by Pennsylvania Cable Network (PNC TV) to approximately 3.3 million households.
Besides the popularity of events, displays and forums is the PA Food Court. Last year 100,000 milkshakes, 20,000 dozen potato doughnuts and 11,000 whoopee pies were consumed at the Food Court, along with all types of food imaginable and catering to all types of diets.
A point of interest is that each year, a life-size butter sculpture is created for display by Jim Victor of Conshohocken. Several years back, a 1,000 pound sculpture depicting a dairy farm family and cow around a breakfast table was on display. Each year, Mr. Victor creates a different butter display for the main lobby.
Along with educating and informing, competition ranks high at the Farm Show. Approximately 13,000 competitive exhibits are scheduled throughout the show. Professionals to amateurs showcase their talents to win ribbons and recognition. This includes food, equipment and square dancing along with tractors square dancing, to name just a few.
The Baking Competition is very popular. Throughout the summer fair season in the state, local winners go on to compete at the PA Farm Show.
Here are some contest winning recipes from previous years.
FOR THE CRUST:
• 1 egg• 3 cups flour• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 cups shortening• 1 tablespoon vinegar
• 5 tablespoons cold waterIn a bowl, mix together the salt and flour. Cut in cold shortening until the size of peas with a pastry cutter. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork, and vinegar and water; whisk until well blended. Add the water/egg mixture gradually to the flour mixture. Shape into a ball. Refrigerate for one or more hours. Roll out dough to fit pie plate.
FOR THE FILLING:• 8 cups sliced apples
• 2 cups sliced peaches• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 3/4 cup sugar• 1/2 cup pie filling enhancer
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup blueberries• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon vanillaFOR THE CRUMB TOPPING:
• 1 cup flour• 2/3 cups brown sugar
• 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon Salt• 1/2 cup butter, cold
• 1/2 teaspoon milkPreheat oven to 400 degrees. Make pie crust. In a large bowl, place apples and peaches, coat with lemon juice. In medium bowl mix 3/4 cups sugar, pie filling enhancer, cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle dry sugar mixture over apples and peaches; toss well to mix. Gently stir in blueberries and vanilla. Spoon fruit mixture into crust. In another medium bowl place all crumb toppings ingredients with the exception of milk. With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Sprinkle crumb mixture over top and lightly press down, brush with milk, sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 60 minutes, until crust is golden brown and apples are soft.
Snickerdoodle Cookie Winner
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 2 eggs• 1/2 cup shortening• 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 2 3/4 cups flour• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda• 3 teaspoons cinnamon
• 4 tablespoons sugar• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract
• 1/2 cup butter• Cinnamon & sugar mixture
In a large bowl beat sugar, butter, shortening, extract, shortening and eggs; Beat until fluffy. Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Form into teaspoon size balls. Roll each ball to coat with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets, 2” apart. Bake in 400 degree preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until set.