Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's January - Must be Farm Show Time!

If you live outside of Pennsylvania you may not know of the phenomena that occurs the second week of January in Harrisburg. It's Farm Show Time! This is the week that every 4-H'er and producer of every kind of livestock look forward to for the entire year. This is the week they find out if they are the best of the best. You can look at and learn about everything, including but not limited to solar power, replacement windows, jewelry woven out of real hair and tractors. If you delight in locally grown and produced foods, the PA showcase area includes all types of dips, vinegars, pretzels, cheeses, bolognas, candies, and wine. And everyone gives out free samples! Actually I have to admit, the wine tasting is one of my top activities at the farm show. We found some of our new favorites at Long Trout Winery. While their Yellow Snow isn't something I'd drink with dinner, it sure is great to cook your dinner in. My other favorite has always been the milkshakes, but I don't recommend doing the wine tasting and milk shakes at the same time.

If you happen to be at the show on a Wednesday, one of the biggest events is the Sheep to Shawl competition. In the morning, youth teams compete to create a shawl in just 3 hours. They start with a fleece and have 3 spinners turn it into yarn and one weaver create a shawl. In the afternoon, the grownups do it - and they have to shear their sheep, and make the shawl in just 2 1/2 hours. It is truly an amazing sight to see and well worth the crowds and packed stands.

While all these things are great, I look forward to farm show for a bit of a different reason - our state alpaca organization, PAOBA, has an educational & sales booth. For 8 long, cold, dusty days we have the opportunity to educate the 500,000 people that come to the farm show. We have alpacas, both huacaya and suri to greet the public, spinners, weavers, knitters and crocheters demonstrating their craft and a wonderful sales area where all the members have the opportunity to sell the fruits of their labors - beautiful yarns, rovings and finished items, handmade from the fiber that their animals produce. It is also one of the only times though the year that I have a chance to see friends from across the state that have the same love of the animals that I do.

If you've never had the opportunity to visit the PA Farm Show, plan ahead for next year. It's always starts the second Saturday of January and runs through the next Saturday. We'd love to see you!

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