HARRISBURG, Pa. — A common school of thought in Pennsylvania claims the state’s annual agricultural showcase brings with it the worst weather of winter.
But the 96th Pennsylvania Farm Show opened Saturday with sunshine and temperatures that reached 60 degrees.
Themed “From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate,” the farm show is expected to draw 400,000 people to the state’s capital through Saturday. Visitors will find 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits, 290 commercial exhibits and the always-popular food court.
On Saturday, several Franklin County, Pa., families were preparing cattle for showing.
Lindsay Upperman of Chambersburg, Pa., returned from Butler County Community College in Wichita, Kan., to show three Angus heifers and one crossbred steer Sunday. Upperman is learning about livestock judging through her animal sciences major, which she hopes will lead to a doctorate in genetics.
“I’m actually learning what they do for judging,” Upperman said, saying a lot of opinions can be based on personal experiences and taste.
Upperman, who watched her cattle being born on the family farm, said this year’s competition is especially personal because of the connection she feels to the four animals.
“They’re mine,” she said. “I’ve broke them, worked every day with them.”
Rachel Clark of Mercersburg, Pa., will have five shorthorn cattle shown Sunday as well. Her older sister, Mandy, plans to lead some of the animals, as she’s done for the past five years.
Mandy Clark, who described the cattle as her “life’s passion,” said her family enjoys participating in the state’s big event. They won a reserve champion ribbon in early competition this year before the farm show opened to the public.
“It’s kind of the prestige of winning the state fair,” she said. “It’s fun.”
Mandy Clark said she would start washing and feeding the cattle Sunday at 4 a.m., then apply hair products and blow the animals’ hair dry. She said that process is “just like you’re going on a date.”
“They get all done up,” she said.
Lauren Nisewander of Greencastle, Pa., will show her Angus heifer and steer on Monday morning. She said she and her husband, Monte, enjoy meeting farm show visitors.
“We like to talk to other people who don’t know much about cattle,” Lauren Nisewander said.
It’s also nice to reconnect with other exhibitors, she said.
Although there is no admission fee for the farm show, parking is $10 at farm show complex-operated lots. Schedules, maps and parking information can be found at www.farmshow.state.pa.us.