It’s that time of year again . . . . . not holiday shopping, but Farm Show planning! That’s right, the Pennsylvania Farm Show will be taking place soon, January 9-16, and the SHPO will be there for the whole week. 2016 marks the 100th time Pennsylvania has celebrated agriculture and farmers with a multi-day exhibition in Harrisburg. Building on the number 100, this year we’re partnering with the Department of Agriculture’s Century Farm Program to recognize farms that have been owned and operated by members of the same family for at least 100 years. Our theme this year is “Farms + Family = Heritage.”
Our booth will feature three farms that were designated as Century Farms in 2015, and three farms that are both Century Farms and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. We’ll also be hosting another Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt—be on the lookout for replica Markers placed throughout the Farm Show recognizing everything from individually-wrapped slices of cheese to banana splits—and will include a Marker in our booth to recognize Bradford County Historical Society for starting the Century Farm Program in 1949.
The Century Farm Program became part of the statewide Department of Agriculture in 1976. In 2004 a new category was added for Bicentennial Farms, for properties owned and operated by the same family for over 200 years. The Century Farm Program has recognized more than 2,000 family farms, some in each county of Pennsylvania, except Philadelphia. Each farm designated is owned by a family that, in the words of the Century Farm certificate, “demonstrates a durability and love of the land” that deserves our appreciation and gratitude.
The Farm Show has its roots in 19th century agricultural fairs that were common across the state. In 1916, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Charles Patton worked with assistant agricultural extension director Ed Hibshman and others to organize a new type of agricultural fair. In January 1917, the “Pennsylvania Corn, Fruit, Vegetable, Dairy Products, and Wool Show” was held in a farm machinery dealer’s building in Harrisburg. The Show was a success, and became an annual event, evolving into what is now the Farm Show.
In 1921, the Show presented its first livestock exhibits, for beef and dairy cattle, horses, sheep, and swine. The first livestock competitions and sales were held in 1922. The next year poultry exhibits were included, and the event expanded from three days to five. By 1925, the Show was attracting 40,000 visitors to sites located all around Harrisburg, and in the late 1920s legislators decided to build a dedicated complex for the Farm Show at Cameron and Maclay Streets.
The Farm Show continued to expand, adding participants from 4-H clubs, the Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, the Grange, State Mounted Police, Penn State’s College of Agriculture, and students from vocational schools. The Farm Show includes many popular events ranging from a draft horse hitch competition to the “sheep to shawl contest,” and judging for the best of Pennsylvania’s agricultural products, such as Christmas trees, apples, and wines. And this year, it will feature a few great Century Farms!
So come out and see us at the Farm Show in January—members of our staff will be there each day, celebrating the Century Farm Program and the many great family farms of Pennsylvania. Friday, January 15, is Century Farm Day, and will include a special ceremony recognizing newly-designated farms. Our 2016 booth will be located near the Maclay Street lobby entrance, across from the Carousel and next to the State Museum’s Archeology exhibit. Around the corner will be an exhibit of rural and farm life presented by the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Pennsbury Manor, and Somerset Historical Center. And scattered throughout the show will be many Markers, to add to your knowledge and appreciation of Pennsylvania’s agricultural heritage!
For more information about the 2016 show, visit http://www.farmshow.state.pa.us/ . To download a copy of our Marker Scavenger Hunt before your trip to the Farm Show, or to request bulk quantities of the booklets in advance of a field trip, visit http://www.farmshow.state.pa.us/page/education.aspx .