Pa. farm show breaks records

January 07, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

HARRISBURG, PA. ? Record crowds turned out for the first weekend of the 92nd annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, its director said.

Pat Kerwin estimated that more than 50,000 people filled the Harrisburg complex on Saturday.

He said Sunday was looking to pass that mark, too, in a year with even more to see than before.

"We have record entries this year across the board - animal entries and family learning," Kerwin said.

The 2008 Farm Show continues through Saturday, with some of the traditionally popular features to come.

Rodeos, which are the only events with an admission charge, are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 5 p.m. Saturday.

"Some people come in to reserve seats for that as early as five o'clock in the morning," Kerwin said.

New and old events scheduled

He said that a relatively new event with a strong following is tractor square dancing, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, and 10 a.m. and noon Friday. Several tractors enter the large arena and swing about while "dancing" to the music.


"Some of the drivers are dressed as women in strange costumes," Kerwin said.

Other perennial favorites are the sheep-to-shawl contest and arena carriage races, according to Kerwin.

Farm show officials reported that the food court sold more than $1.3 million in food in 2007. Sunday's visitors toted various associations' products, including milkshakes, baked potatoes and honey waffles.

Kerwin said several steps were taken to improve the 2008 Farm Show experience for exhibitors and visitors. He cited more navigable aisles, online registration, centrally located swine weigh-in stations and a shift in trailer parking to allow more room for visitor parking.

Thirty shuttle buses take visitors to their vehicles, which are directed to and from parking lots by Pennsylvania State Police. FFA students distribute daily schedules.

"We want the guests to have a better experience knowing where things are and when they are," Kerwin said.

Farm show 'family-friendly'

He said he believes the farm show has become something shared among generations.

"It's very, very family-friendly. It's wholesome," Kerwin said.

For some, he said, the farm show can provide a rare opportunity.

"An urban person can't get any closer to an animal than you can get here. I think there's a romance associated with it, back to the farm and back to the basics," Kerwin said.

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