Food Adventures: Pennsylvania Farm Show

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Food Adventures: Pennsylvania Farm Show

For 101 long years, folks have been making their way to the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, the keystone state’s capital city. Billed as the largest agricultural exposition in the United States, it happens over the course of a deep winter week when one’s breath becomes visible in the chilly air. The reason for the timing: this is when farmers are able to take a break from the long work hours that define their trade.

Waiting for the famous Farm Show milkshake last year (a mid-century tradition that is totally worth the line) an old-timer in suspenders told me that some save all year long just to come to the show. He then chuckled at my admission that it was my first time there. “You’ll be back,” he advised. True enough.

Part trade show, part old-fashioned country fair, there’s enough to keep you busy for days across 11 buildings spanning 24 acres. Expect exhibits, animals, cooking demos, rodeos, baking contests and all things farm-related-including the state’s agriculture princesses, who don tiaras and sashes reflecting everything from apple and grape to alpaca and dairy. Best of all, it’s free to get in, save for a $15 parking fee that rankles the show’s longtime devotees who recall the days when free meant free.

More than a presentation of tractors and plows (though there’s plenty of that), the show is a celebration of all things Pennsylvania grown. With 60,000 farms and economic impact exceeding $7.4 billion, agribusiness is one of the Pennsylvania’s biggest sectors. Here’s how to dig in.

Jenn Hall writes about food and culture from a Jersey-side suburb of Philly. Follow along at jennhallwrites.com.