HARRISBURG - Visitors wandered past thousands of farm animals, witnessed the crowning of a new apple pie champion, cheered young cowboys at a rodeo, and ate their way through a food court stuffed with Pennsylvania delicacies as the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show began its eight-day run Saturday.
Arriving by carriage, Gov. Tom Corbett opened the 96th celebration of Pennsylvania's agriculture industry by thanking the state's 62,000 farming families: "Pennsylvania has a rich agricultural tradition, and the Pennsylvania Farm Show honors our oldest and largest industry."
Thousands of people swarmed the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, where they were greeted by a dizzying array of livestock exhibits as well as a full slate of events including a garden tractor pull, a logging horse demonstration, cooking contests and exhibitions, and the Pennsylvania High School Rodeo Association Championship Rodeo. And, of course, there was the food: from Pennsylvania baked potatoes to honey ice cream to deep-fried breaded mushrooms.
Eleven-year-old Johanna Kiska of Ashley entered 28 birds, mostly bantams, in the poultry competition judged Saturday.
"It's interesting to have them around," her father, Jack Kiska, told The Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre. "They're almost like pets. People think you raise them for eggs, but they are small birds, they get to know you, they stick around when you walk by them."
The 2013 Pennsylvania Farm Show theme is "Made in PA. It Makes a Difference," highlighting the state's varied agricultural products, including honey, maple syrup, wool and Christmas trees.
The Farm Show calls itself the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring more than 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors. The show runs through Jan. 12. Admission is free and parking is $10.