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This weekend marks the beginning of a week-long, annual Pennsylvania tradition:  The Pennsylvania Farm Show.  For those unfamiliar, think of it as a big indoor state fair, on steroids.  It is truly an experience that I would recommend to anyone who has not witnessed it, and I would encourage everyone who has to continue their attendance at least once in the coming week.

The Farm Show is actually both the name of the building and the actual event.  The building was originally opened in 1966, and is used for everything from sporting events to computer shows during the rest of the year.  In fact, my first experience with the complex was a computer show.  I had headed out to pick up a few components I needed and when I walked into the building I was greeted by a room full of cows.  Not exactly what I had expected.  It seems that a local 4-H group was having a youth cattle show in one of the larger exhibition halls and I had to pass through it to get to the computer show.

An interesting experience for a suburban raised guy like myself.

My wife fought hard to get me to go to my first actual Farm Show.  But, now I am a regular attendee.  Why?  It can be summed up in one word: FOOD!  The Farm Show has a food court run by the various agricultural councils in the state that serve everything from chicken sandwiches to honey ice cream to potato doughnuts (yes, doughnuts, and they are spectacular).  The true pièce de résistance, though, is the milkshakes.  My mouth waters just thinking about our first trip to the food court this weekend.

But, if you haven’t gone beyond the food court, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Granted, exhibition halls full of livestock of various and sundry types are not for everyone.  But there are countless vendors selling everything from emu products to state made wine (and there are some damn good PA wineries).  There is the annual sheep to shawl contest where teams shear a sheep, spin the wool to yarn, and knit a shawl faster than you can imagine.  There are the various equine events from carriage teams to draft horse pulling teams.  There is the yearly butter sculpture.  It is a veritable cornucopia of events, tastes, smells, and experiences that will make you dizzy with their variety.

I have become a true fan of the Farm Show, and I truly encourage anyone relatively local to Harrisburg to try to make a stop by at some point.  If you’re not local, you have my sympathies. 

I’ll drink your milkshake for you.


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