Twas two nights before Farm Show when all through the house
Few Pennsylvanians were more eager than PCN’s Mary Klaus!
Welcome to my PCN Farm Show blog. As a veteran Pennsylvania Farm Show reporter – I’ve covered the Farm Show for the past 33 years for a Pennsylvania newspaper – I know and love the Farm Show with all my heart. I’ll share my knowledge and passion for Pennsylvania’s version of a state fair with you this week.
Although Friday, January 4th is the major moving-in day for exhibitors in the 97th Pennsylvania Farm Show, the 24-acre Farm Show complex hummed with activity on Thursday. Cattle mooed, swine grunted and people laughed, hugged and chatted in what can best be described as a big reunion for Pennsylvania agriculture.
In the North Hall, Bill Work of Uniontown groomed Ms. Predator, a nine-month-old, shining black Angus.
“I’ve been coming to the Farm Show for the past 12 years,” Work said, noting that he raises 10 beef cattle on his 30-acre Fayette County farm. “I wouldn’t miss it.”
In the West Hall, James Parlette of Airville and his son, Gus, escorted their large, lumbering hogs to the swine pens. The 10 swine — Berkshires, Hampshires, Yorkshires and Chester Whites — made themselves at home by plopping down for naps.
James Parlette, a Farm Show swine exhibitor for more than 50 years, grinned. “It’s good to be here,” he said.
The Sale Arena sat empty Thursday but will fill up today. Pennsylvania’s finest porkers will be judged there at 10 am Friday.
Exhibitors in the Main Exhibition Hall put finishing touches on their displays. A large carousel, operated by the Pennsylvania State Showman’s Association to benefit the Farm Show Scholarship Fund, sat waiting for riders.
In the Weis Exposition Hall, the Food Court looked ready for an onslaught of visitors today. Folks hungry for that famous Farm Show food can start their Farm Show grazing early. The Food Court will be open today from noon to 9 pm so bring your appetite – and your patience – as this event tends to be popular. Parking ($10 a vehicle during the show) is free today.
This year’s butter sculpture, unveiled Thursday night, features most that is great about Pennsylvania agriculture – cheese, milk, fruit, vegetables and even Christmas trees.
The popular tribute to Pennsylvania’s dairy industry, a more than 800-pound butter sculpture, focuses on the PA Preferred logo. The sculpture is all Pennsylvania, made of butter donated by the Land O’Lakes plant in South Middleton Twp. near Carlisle and created by sculptor Jim Victor of Conshohocken.
The sculpture, a “must see” for visitors, has become an integral part of the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Displayed in a glass-encased cooler, it reminds visitors the importance of dairy farming, the leading segment of the agricultural industry in Pennsylvania. The Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program sponsored this year’s sculpture.
Victor said the sculpture took him a total of 300 hours to create, with the help of Marie Pelton, his wife, who planned the design; Abe Rothblatt of Philadelphia, who created the steel and plywood framework; and Jimm Scannell of Philadelphia, who helped in the sculpture work. The cool job – Victor kept the refrigerated case in the 30s and 40s most of the time – went off without a hitch.
The butter sculpture won’t go to waste when the Farm Show ends. Instead, the butter will be scraped from the sculpture’s frame and taken to a Juniata County dairy farm, where it will be put through a digester and converted to about 65 kilowatt hours of electricity to help operate the farm.
Did you know that Pennsylvania in 2011:
- had 538,000 cows milked on 7,400 dairy farms?
- produced 10.7 billion pounds of milk, putting it in fifth place nationwide?
- produced nearly 413 million pounds of cheese, earning seventh place nationwide in cheese production?
When State Agriculture Secretary George Greig says that Pennsylvania dairy is big business, he’s not kidding.
These facts, provided by the state Department of Agriculture, show the importance of dairy to the state’s economy. So enjoy a milkshake or some milk or cheese at the Food Court today and support Pennsylvania dairy farmers.
A Sweet Rescue
Pennsylvania Maple Sweetheart, Stephanie Snyder of Erie, was putting the finishing touches on the Pennsylvania Maple Syrup Producers display Thursday night when she happened upon Mary Klaus, a PCN Farm Show reporter, struggling with a computer problem.
Klaus was attempting to send a Farm Show story but couldn’t get a wi-fi connection.
“The computer connection to the Farm Show wi-fi was blocked,” Snyder concluded in about two minutes. So instead of going to her motel for a well-deserved rest after a six-hour drive, attendance at the Farm Show dinner and work at the maple display, Snyder came to Klaus’ rescue.
The 16-year-old maple sweetheart, wearing a long, elegant cream-colored gown and maple leaf necklace, stretched out on the floor with Klaus’ laptop computer and got to work.
It took her several attempts and about 15 minutes, but the young lady famous for her maple syrup pudding cake prevailed.
“I’m glad I could help,” she grinned. Snyder, a student at McDowell High School in Erie, said she hopes to study environmental education after finishing high school.