Strength in Our Diversity
Every year, in the second week of January, hundreds of thousands of people — in busses, tractor trailers, pick-ups, wagons, SUVs and hybrids — converge on the Capital City for the Pennsylvania Farm Show. This year is the 102nd Farm Show. If you ask 102 of those people what the Farm Show means to them, you’re likely to get 102 wildly different answers. That’s part of the inspiration behind this year’s theme: “Strength in Our Diversity.”
“The agriculture industry is Pennsylvania’s crowning jewel, with its many facets on display every year at the Farm Show,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Like a jewel, agriculture reflects something different from every angle, and it changes as you look at it in different light.”
This year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Farm Show Foundation invite guests to look at agriculture from different angles and consider diverse perspectives as they enjoy the Farm Show — Pennsylvania’s state fair.
Consider agriculture through the eyes of a city child, seeing a cow up-close for the first time, or learning how bees make honey, or finding out that their cuddly-soft sweater is made from the hair of a long-haired angora rabbit that looks like a furball – and watching the rabbit sit contentedly while its fur is spun into yarn.
While you’re at it, check out the joy of a local child’s rural counterparts, all dressed up and parading their pride and joy around the show ring for the judge’s approval, a ribbon, a cash prize and bragging rights all year. Nothing is more fun than watching a tiny girl in pink and sparkles, exerting her will over a spiffed-up hog several times her size, then dancing with joy as she waves a blue ribbon around when the competition is over.
Keep your eye on the face of a middle-school student at the Ag 101 stage, enthralled by the newfound possibility of a high-tech career using agricultural drones to map crop productivity. And drink in the enthusiasm of an apiarist – that’s a beekeeper, in case you’re whipping out your dictionary – educating a crowd about the tremendous diversity of Pennsylvania crops and how that diversity benefits the bees that are so crucial to our food supply.
As visitors nibble prize-winning cheese samples and sip on a famous Farm Show milkshake, consider agriculture from the perspective of a dairy farmer, maintaining not just a family tradition, but a lifetime of investment he or she is fighting to sustain in the face of a changing marketplace. Or explore an exhibit on how those same farmers work to produce renewable energy and improve the water supply — not just for their own farms but the entire Mid-Atlantic region.
Witness the pride and the sheer determination that goes into the food on our tables, and take a moment to say hello, and thank you to the farmers and producers who work so diligently to get it there.
Then check out the food, fiber and fuel that can be made from hemp, an old crop, returning to Pennsylvania and researched this past year as a potentially viable crop for PA farmers and consumers. Everything from skateboard decks and auto bodies to tasty cooking oil and soft drinks – we guarantee your perspective on the potential of a simple plant will change. Take a minute to check out a chicken, cozy up to a cow, giggle at a goat, hug a horse or snuggle up to a bunny, take note of the diversity of each species of animal. From the funky-looking frizzle chicken to the iconic Holstein cow, and from the most delicate butterfly to the massive Percheron draft horse pulling thousands of pounds, the variety is endless.
Plants are just as diverse — from syrup-producing sugar maples to festive Frazier firs, from poinsettias to pumpkins, and from potatoes to pansies.
Whether it rolls off a hi-tech production line; is plucked from an indoor, urban aquaculture farm; or picked lovingly and processed at a small, family-owned orchard; cut from the forest, hewn in a lumber mill, and crafted by a local artisan; or brewed to perfection in a craft microbrewery, the quality and diversity of Pennsylvania products made from those plants and animals will be on display at the 2018 Farm Show.
You can explore the rich history of how each product became what it is today, and the vision of how they might be produced in the future, when the smallest Farm Show visitor finishes school and finds a wide array of agriculture jobs in-demand and waiting. For those who are already a food-lover, your perspective is sure to change.
For sheer entertainment’s sake, marvel at a working cowboy or cowgirl competing in a champion rodeo, watch a lumberjack show off his skills, learn to make a new dish under the skilled direction of a decorated chef, or watch teams of artisans create garments from shearing to finished shawl.
For inspiration, hear the story of a veteran who returned from service and put his hard-earned skills to work on a farm, or meet a dedicated volunteer who has served visitors at Farm Shows since the 1960s. Guests can even witness the miracle of life, aided by a veterinarian in this year’s new Calving Corner birthing center.
The people of Pennsylvania agriculture are diverse and deeply inspirational in their stories, their struggles, their joys and their pride in what they produce. So, even if you’ve been there and done that before, take in the 2018 Farm Show with fresh eyes!
Our industry is strong.
Our Diversity is Our Strength.