It's all over now – even the counting. But the 97th Pennsylvania Farm Show, that concluded last weekend, was one for the record books. That's the word from State Ag Secretary George Greig.
"Farm Show is a celebration of the best of Pennsylvania agriculture – the best animals, the best produce, the best handmade items," says Greig. It was also the biggest.
Some 585,000 visitors were estimated to have walked through the complex's doors (including repeat visitors and exhibitors). Parking attendants counted 71,153 vehicles, up 4% from last year. Visitors saw more than 10,000 competitive exhibits from pies to petunias, and nearly 7,000 animals from poultry to porkers spread across the 11 halls and three arenas during the eight-day event.
The show kicked off with the unveiling of a 1,200-pound butter sculpture fashioned by Jim Victor of Conshohocken, Pa. It included some of the state's top commodities including dairy products (no cow), grapes and wine, Christmas trees, fruits and vegetables. If you've never seen a Christmas tree cut out of butter, you missed it.
Today's Agriculture exhibit, an industry-wide effort led by PennAg Industries, was a phenomenal, blended display of how today's ag technology supports animal care and the environment – complete with growing and harvest-ready soybeans and cover crops – all indoors.
It was completed with large-screen videos plus many seasoned volunteers at different stations to help educate the public about agriculture and food production. The exhibit featured live animals: 155 chickens, 12 piglets, four veal calves and one dairy heifer. The pheasant and grouse coming out of the standing corn field were stuffed.
Highly preferred foods
Record attendance kept the PA Preferred Food Court vendors busy. Here's the official count of what was scooped up, poured out, handled over and otherwise served as Pennsylvania produced products:
•Pennsylvania Co-operative Potato Growers sold more than 300,000 doughnuts, 35,000 baked potatoes and nearly 45,000 servings of French fries.
•Pennsylvania's Cattlemen's Association boasted more than 2,000 steak, egg and cheese sandwiches.
•Pennsylvania Livestock Association sold more than 7,650 hot dogs, 6,500 lemonades,1,300 pounds of Italian sausage, 1,800 pounds of lamb stew and 6,000 pounds of pork and beef sandwiches.
•PennAg Industries Association sold more than 20,000 pounds of pulled pork, 7,000 hot dogs, 60,000 chicken nuggets, 5,000 chicken sandwiches, 10,000 whoopie pies, 10,000 fish sandwiches and 256 gallons of chowder.
•Pennsylvania Maple Syrup Producers sold more than 5,000 bags of maple cotton candy and 550 gallons of maple syrup.
•Pennsylvania State Horticulture Association sold 8,200 apple dumplings and more than 120 bushels of apples.
•Pennsylvania Mushroom Grower's Cooperative sold more than 8,000 pounds of mushrooms – mostly battered and deep-friend, of course.
•Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers sold 7,500 blooming onions, 600 vegetable wraps, 8,000 strawberry and raspberry surprise drinks, 8,800 bowls of soup and 1,800 pickles.
•Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association used three tractor trailer loads of milkshake mix, cooked up more than 6,000 grilled cheese sandwiches with 6,000 pounds of Mozzarella cheese.
•Pennsylvania Beekeepers Association marketed more than 2.5 tons of honey, 800 gallons of honey ice cream and cooked up more than 650 pounds of waffle mix.