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Farm Show 2016: Celebrating 100 shows in style

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HARRISBURG — The 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show opens it gates Jan. 9 with a new milkshake flavor, old plows and tractors, a mushroom house, an ice cream scoop off, thousands of animals and everything from square dancing to rodeos.

The show, hosted in the state Farm Show Complex at Cameron and Maclay streets in Harrisburg, will be held from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 9 through Jan. 15 and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 16.

Admission is free, but parking is $15 per vehicle at the Farm Show’s on-site lots, 29-acre parking lot off Elmerton Avenue and at HACC. Free shuttle buses to the complex are included in the parking fees for Elmerton Avenue and HACC.

Using the theme “The 100tth Pennsylvania Farm Show: Our Commonwealth’s Blue Ribbon Experience,” this year’s show focuses on both the past and the future.

“Since 1917, Pennsylvanians from all walks of life and from every corner of the state have come to Harrisburg to showcase their best livestock, their best projects or their best products,” state Agriculture Russell Redding said. “The history of the Pennsylvania Farm Show is in large part the story of Pennsylvania.”

The Farm Show, Pennsylvania’s version of a state fair, celebrates the state’s agricultural industry with livestock displays, farm produce and products, competitions, business deals and entertainment. This year’s show will feature about 6,000 horses, beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, swine, goats and rabbits.

This year’s Farm Show will not have any poultry exhibits because of the threat of the highly contagious avian influenza. However, youth can compete in a “birdless” poultry showmanship competitions using pictures of birds, and in poultry poster and scrapbook contests.

Youth Angora rabbit breeders will hold an “Angora Palooza” in which they spin angora fiber in the Small Arena at 6 p.m. Jan. 15.

The Food Court in the Weis Expo Hall will offer perennial favorites such as thick milkshakes, baked potatoes, fried mushrooms and roast beef sandwiches. There also will be new food to try: blended mushroom burgers, carrot cake funnel cakes, walking goat meat tacos and ribs, barbecue beef bowl, chocolate-covered bacon, chicken bites, fish sliders, fish nachos, huge fresh-baked cookies and breakfast pretzel rolls. The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association plans to introduce a new milkshake flavor.

The Culinary Connection, with its cooking demonstrations and samples, has a full schedule that includes such celebrity chefs as Gina Neely, star of Food Network’s “Down Home with the Neelys” and “Road Tasted,” at noon and 2 p.m. next Saturday; and John Moeller, former White House chef, at noon Jan. 16.

The PA Preferred Chili Cook-off will be held at 2 p.m. Jan. 13.

Historic displays at this 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show include history walls showing both the evolution of Pennsylvania agriculture and the changes in the Farm Show over the years. A “100 Years of Agriculture” program will be held at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 12 in the Equine Arena to show agricultural changes from horse power to steam engines to tractors and from simple plows to plows with GPS technology.

Weis Markets will present a “Farm-to-Shelf” exhibit showing the journey of apples, pork, potatoes and dairy products from the farm to the grocery store. Farm Journal Foundation will sponsor a roundtable discussion on global food security at 9 a.m. Jan. 11 in the PA Preferred Banquet Hall.

Returning favorites include the Farm Show’s 26th annual butter sculpture, eight baking contests, the Pennsylvania High School Championship Rodeo, Farm Show Fashions With A Flair, Cumberland County 4-H Drill Team, square dance, pony pulling, horse pulling, carriage racing, sheep-to-shawl, bid calling, grape stomping, rabbit hopping , tractor square dancing, the Mike Waugh Celebrity Draft Horse Team Driving and cow milking.

“We expect record crowds this year,” said Sharon Altland, Farm Show Complex executive director since April 30. “This will be a wonderful show, one people will remember. I’m honored to be the director and to work with such wonderful people here at the Farm Show Complex and in the Department of Agriculture. ”

The Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau has said that the 2015 show had an estimated economic effect of $95 million on the Midstate.

For more information about the 2016 Farm show, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.

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This week The Sentinel takes a Closer Look at the 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show, which opens Jan. 9:

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