101st Pa. Farm Show is coming up

Alyssa Pressler
York Dispatch

Where else but the 101st Pennsylvania Farm Show can you see 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitors and 300 commercial exhibits all under one roof?

Judy Zimmerman, 9, and her lamb wait for their turn in the ring for the Junior Market Lamb Show & Showmanship judging at the 100th PA Farm Show in Harrisburg, Sunday January 10, 2016. (John A. Pavoncello - The York Dispatch)

For a week starting Saturday, Jan. 7, locals will flock to the show in Harrisburg to see some of their old favorites, such as the farm animals and the butter sculpture, as well as some of the new events this year. The Farm Show is free to the public, and there are a number of new and special events this year, most also free, to entice visitors. 

Olivia Waggoner, a Washington Township 16-year-old who competes each year with her award-winning livestock, is looking forward to competing again this year with her Dorset Sheep at the Meat Breeding Sheep Youth Show. In the 2016 Waggoner's Dorset ewe was crowned supreme. 

Waggoner said she's been competing at the Pennsylvania Farm Show since she was 6 years old. Each year she looks forward to competing and working with the public. 

"A lot of people come and they don't know anything about sheep," she said. "I can teach them stuff when they ask questions." 

This year, Waggoner will be competing in the Junior Market Lamb category for the first time this year, and the winner for that will be announced on Jan. 8. She'll be at the show with her Dorset sheep between Jan. 11 and Jan. 14, so it's a busy week for Waggoner.

She doesn't have a lot of opportunity to explore the rest of the show, but each year she and her family make sure to get a milkshake from the Pennsylvania Dairyman's Association. 

"They're the best," she said. 

Olivia Waggoner, a 16-year-old Washington Township resident, stands with her prizes from last year's Pennsylvania Farm Show.

While Waggoner is excited for her returning animal shows, there are plenty of new events to be excited about, too. 

Bird enthusiasts can look forward to the return of the poultry exhibitors, which were not present at the 2016 Farm Show to prevent the spread of avian influenza and to protect poultry through the state, according to information provided by the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Improved bio-security accommodations have made the exhibits safe this year. 

There will be an Intro to Agriculture demonstration during the Farm Show that provides information on current topics in Pennsylvania agriculture, an expanded alpaca show, and a few celebrity guests as well.

Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian, host of the cooking series "Ten Dollar Dinners" and "Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping," will take the stage on the first day of the Farm Show. The network's Chris Cognac also will appear at the show on Jan. 12 on the Culinary Connection stage to talk about his experience as an Army veteran who served in Desert Storm and his work in the police force. 

Veterans, active military members and their families will be honored on Jan. 12 through events that will feature veteran service organizations. Presentations will be shown throughout the day to highlight the work of military personnel, particularly work that has connections with agriculture. A Veterans Affairs' Mobile Veterans Outreach Van will also be at there to provide information and assistance to veterans. 

Additionally, the Farm Show will kick off each day with the singing of the national anthem, sung by the winners of the show's first ever "Oh, Say, Can You Sing?" Facebook contest. If you happen to miss the opening each day, you can view it from the comfort of your home when it's streamed live on the Farm Show's Facebook page each day. 

While the Farm Show — which is the largest indoor agricultural exposition, according to information provided by the show — is free to the public, there is a $15 fee to park at any of the Farm Show Complex-operated lots. However, visitors may park at one of the two offsite parking lots located east of the complex at the intersection of Elmerton Avenue and Sycamore Street or at Harrisburg Area Community College on Wildwood Park Drive. 

A free shuttle service is available from those lots — but be sure to write the name of the parking lot and the general location of your vehicle. Shuttles are identified with the name of the parking area they serve.

There is also a free, round-trip shuttle between the Farm Show Complex and downtown Harrisburg on weekdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

The show runs from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 7-13, and on Jan. 15 the show runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can learn more by visiting the Pennsylvania Farm Show's website