Farm Show Complex staff clean up from busy event for upcoming horse show
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Farm Show Complex staff clean up from busy event for upcoming horse show

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HARRISBURG – Whoever said there’s no rest for the weary must have been thinking of the Farm Show Complex staff.

The 104th Pennsylvania Farm Show ended on Saturday evening, and about 1,500 horses are set to move into the sprawling 24-acre complex on Monday for a two-day horse sale.

The Farm Show staff, which hosted more than 600,000 people and 6,000 animals for eight days (nine if you count the Food Court opening a day early), are cleaning up from the biggest event of the year and setting up for the next one.

Ann Brown says they’re used to it.

Brown, Farm Show Complex building maintenance manager, said horses arrive Monday for three horse sales – Mid Atlantic Breeders, Pennsylvania Harness and Keystone Draft Horse – scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday.

The horse sales are held in the complex’s three arenas while horses are housed in the North, Northeast, West, Northwest, Equine Barn and supplemental tents, all places used during the Farm Show.

“There’s a lot to do,” Brown said, noting that during the cleanup, exhibitors through the complex still are moving out while vendors in the Food Court are packing and dismantling.

She said that trash, manure, tanbark and shavings must be hauled away; stalls, pens and cages must be taken down; each of the huge halls plus restrooms, meeting rooms and hallways must be cleaned and more.

Even the butter sculpture, this year depicting Pittsburgh Steelers mascot Steely McBeam, Philadelphia Eagles mascot Swoop and Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty in 1,000 pounds of butter, will be dismantled by volunteers. The butter will be sent to a Juniata County farm with a methane digester.

“We have 40 permanent staff and 63 temporary staff,” Brown said. “We should be mostly back together by Monday afternoon.”

After the horse show, the staff can catch its collective breath as they clean up and set up for the Pennsylvania Auto Show, which runs Jan. 23-26.

The Farm Show

By all accounts, the 104th Pennsylvania Farm Show was a huge success.

“This year’s s show was amazing, everything we hoped it would be,” state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “It was a 1 million square-foot classroom.”

Temperatures during this Farm Show ranged from 14 to 66 during weather featuring sun, fog, rain, snow and ice. Crowd sizes varied, too.

“The crowds were down when we had rain, snow and ice, but up on both weekends,” said Sharon Myers, executive director of the state Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.

“Our Farm Show staff is working 12-hour shifts from Jan. 2 through Monday,” she said. “They’ve done a wonderful job. The state police have been fantastic, too.”

Harrison Frantz, livestock show manager, said that animal numbers varied as much as the crowds.

“We had less horses but more beef cattle, breeding swine, sheep, rabbits and poultry,” he said. “We had about the same number of junior market animals. Dairy entries were good considering the economy’s effect on dairy.”

Shiree Woodford, Farm Show Complex security director, said the complex security staff, Capitol police and state police teamed up to handle traffic, parking, crowd management and lost children and items.

Redding said he especially liked the state FFA Mid-Winter Convention on Monday and the excitement of students receiving their blue FFA jackets, the sheep-to-shawl contest on Wednesday, the honoring of veterans on Thursday, and the presentation of all sorts of well-deserved awards during the show.

“I loved being ringside and watching the young men and women showing their animals,” he said. “I also loved watching their expressions when they win.”

Food Court vendors reported strong sales for the opening and closing weekends but some slow days when it rained or snowed during the week. The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association used 19,000 gallons of ice cream for its milkshakes and ice cream cones and 7,000 pounds of mozzarella for its cheese cubes.

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