HARRISBURG – Three Dickinson Township sisters spent much of the past year getting ready for the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show.
This week, the McBride sisters reaped the results.
They’re not alone. “All in the family” could be the theme of this Farm Show, in which parents and children, brothers and sisters, and aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews all work together to enter various categories.
On the opening day of the Farm Show’s eight-day run, Aubrey McBride, 13; Ava McBride, 11; and Alyvia McBride, 10, all rode their horses into the New Holland Arena with the Cumberland County 4-H Drill Team. Along with 20 other equestrians, the McBrides helped give a stirring performance that included forming a carousel of horses, a wagon-wheel formation, a figure eight and various crisscrossing in the arena. Ava characterized it as “really fun.”
The McBrides also entered and won various Family Living contests, especially the newest class of Crop Art. This involves creating pictures and forms by using seeds instead of paint – and many hours of gluing and using toothpicks.
“Crop art is hot at the Farm Show this year,” said Gerri Moore, Family Living Department co-chairwoman, adding that the Farm Show got the idea from the Dillsburg Farmers Fair. “We displayed crop art at last year’s Farm Show. People really liked it. So we added a crop art category and got 40 entries.”
Crop artists are required to create art entirely from naturally colored dried seeds and beans that can be grown in Pennsylvania. The art could be entered in either the flat category, such as landscapes and portraits, or the sculpture category.
The seed mosaics on display were stunning, especially the replica of the Star Barn in Elizabethtown that was made entirely of beans. Also eye-catching was Alyvia’s owl of beans and corn, which won a first place in its category. Aubrey earned second place for her crop art flower.
The McBrides also entered and won in the Mr. Spuds decorated potato contest, a whimsical part of the Farm Show that involves decorating potatoes to look like little people.
Aubrey won first prize for her decorated potato in a wagon while Alyvia won second place for turning a potato into a pig. Ava submitted a delightful potato on a sofa, calling it a couch potato.
Throughout the Farm Show, several members of the same family competed together and against each other, often winning. Four Brown brothers of Acme beat nine other teams to win this year’s Farm Show heavyweight horse pulling contest on Tuesday.
Dorothy Martin of Conestoga and her daughter, Deborah Martin Berkoski, won prizes in several of the baking contests.
Appropriately enough, even the Family Living Department involves families running it. Moore and her daughter, Jennifer Boling, co-chair the department, are involved while Boling’s daughter, Emma, heads the canned good category. Several husband and wife teams volunteer in the department all week.
Family Living entries were down this year, said Jennifer Boling, attributing this to the fact that the Farm Show charges people $1 per entry and $2 per late entry. She also said that crafts have taken a back seat to cellphones and electronics.
Emma Boling said she saw some creative canned goods, referring to dried watermelon, fig marmalade and fruit leather. She said that pickles, jams, jellies, sauces and salsa entries were the strongest.
People who sew – and those who don’t – seemed to enjoy looking at the traditional quilts and the colorful, contemporary ones and the clothing from simple aprons to intricate formal gowns.
Farm Show visitors also seem to love seeing the hobbies: creative bookmarks, amusing decorated bowling pins, colorful birdhouses, creative jazzy jars and everything from pillowcases to pincushions.
Family Living officials are discussing such changes for next year as developing a new wreath class for crafts, and making some new categories in quilts and painting, Moore said.
The Farm Show runs through 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free while parking is $15 a vehicle.