Family Fun

Tips for Visiting the Pennsylvania Farm Show

Every January, in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, a large event called “The PA Farm Show” is held. It is basically like a culmination of all county fairs in the state in one huge building. In fact, the building is called the “Farm Show Complex.”

The Farm Show lasts for a little over a week. We make it a point to go down every year, to look around, see some animals, check out homemade goodies, and sample various food items from all over the state!

I highly recommend that if the chance presents itself, you visit the PA Farm Show at least once. And to assist you, I’ve compiled some helpful tips and things at the Show you just can’t miss!

Bring a hungry stomach; the food court is worth it!

Everybody loves a good food court! There are several vendors offering a variety of foods from PA. One of the largest stands is close to home: Troutman’s Food Service. Their stand provides all of the potato products for the show, including potato donuts! I’ve never had one, but they seem to be a big hit!

The milkshakes are quite possibly one of the biggest attractions. I am not a huge milkshake fan, but my mom gets one every year. Nearly everyone walking around the complex is carrying a plastic milkshake cup at some point.

There are fried mozzarella cubes, pulled pork sandwiches, soups, maple syrup products, pizza, blooming onions, and so much more! There is no way I could name everything available!

Say hello to all kinds of animals!

Farmers from all over the state bring their finest animals to show at the Farm Show. Cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, and my favorite, goats, just to name a few!

I made friends with a sheep, and it tried to eat my hair and then gave me kisses!

One of the girls on our school’s archery team took a cow to the Farm Show. I am so thankful that I spotted her sister (who is also on the archery team), or else I may have never found her cow amongst all the others!

As we were trying to leave that portion of the complex, other owners were taking their cows out to show. One nearly backed into my mom, so just be aware of live animals walking around the crowds of people. (And where there are animals, there is poop. I’ll discuss that a little later in this post!)

Free samples!

There are three or four aisles of food vendors who put out samples of their products. My husband loves to try all of the hot sauces. I like to sample cheeses and dips. There is always a stand for Herlocher’s dipping mustard, which is sweet with a little kick to it. We purchase a few jars almost every year.

These aisles are almost always jam-packed full of people. Patience is key.

Turkey Hill also hands out free ice cream cup samples, but that is in the same hall as the food court.

Fun activities for the kiddos

I cannot even name all of the exhibits for kids. There is a merry-go-round in the middle of the main hall, a fake cow to milk, games, a food safety trailer, and cow hats to wear.

Eat cake entries in special competitions

If you check the visitor’s guide, there are chocolate cake, angel food cake, and other various baking competition judging time slots. After the judges decide upon a winner, they slice up the other entries and pass them out to whoever is waiting outside the roped off area. The PA Preferred chocolate cake contest gets quite the crowd gathered around to sample the yummy cakes!

Check the Farm Show guide for special events.

This year, we were fortunate enough to be able to see Food Network’s Alex Guarnaschelli do a cooking demonstration. For as stern as she seems judging Chopped, she appeared to be a down-to-earth, funny individual. She cooked cauliflower steaks, and answered a whole lot of audience questions. Probably one of my favorite things she said was in response to a mom’s question. The lady asked about balancing work, family, and cooking. Alex basically told her to give herself a break. Balance is so difficult and nearly unattainable. If you can put 4 or 5 good meals on the table a week, give yourself a pat on the back, then order a pizza. I love that!

There are other activities going on nearly all the time. From rabbit hurdles, to herding dogs, rodeos, draft horses, and people showing their animals, there is always something to see!

To make sure you are aware of all that is happening, check out the PA Farm Show visitor’s guide.

Be sure to look at the butter sculpture!

Every year, a sculpture made entirely of butter is displayed in the center of the Main Hall.

This year’s sculpture is made of about 1000 pounds of butter, which is unfit to be eaten by humans. After the show, it is taken to a methane digester to produce energy.

Your allergies may not appreciate this adventure.

I do not have allergies to hay and dust, but for the past two years, my throat and sinuses have not been very happy with me! There are sections where the air is heavy with dust. There is hay and straw with all of the animals, and then, of course, there are the animals themselves. So, if you have allergies, take the proper precautions!

I will be honest…it stinks a little. And in some sections of the building, it is really stinky! Growing up in the area I have, the smells do not bother me.

It would be a good idea to watch your step. Handlers need to take their animals to different areas of the complex, and the animals sometimes poop along the way. Nobody wants piggy poo on their shoes for the ride home!

There are shuttles to and from the parking lots.

The majority of parking is located at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC). While it is close enough to walk to the building, there are shuttles busses running all day. These come in handy, because it is usually chilly during Farm Show week!

The parking fee is $15, and admission to the show itself is free.

I like to try not to carry anything around the Farm Show.

This is just a personal preference, but I don’t like to carry things while I am walking around the Farm Show. I always wear a shirt with a hoodie overtop so I do not need to carry a coat around. We usually aren’t outside long enough for me to really get cold. And having two layers on is nice when walking through some of the sections, as doors open and close and it can sometimes get chilly. I also try to bring a wristlet rather than a big purse if I can help it at all. It is just easier to maneuver through the crowds.

Here are a few other pictures I took along the way.

I always look forward to our annual PA Farm Show visit! So many things to see, do, enjoy, and learn!

Have you been to the Pennsylvania Farm Show? What is your favorite part?

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