Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Big...Really BIG!

Every January, our state holds its annual state fair--the PA Farm Show. I know, I know--middle of winter, what's with that? Well, since 1917, Pennsylvania has held its annual state fair in the middle of winter. And indoors, at that. It is billed as the largest indoor agricultural event in the United States. (The Farm Show complex has some 615,637 square feet of display, exposition hall, and arena space--so, it's big...really big!)

We went to the Farm Show quite frequently when our children were little. What kid can resist all the farm animals--cows, pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits? And with no admission fee (although there is a parking fee) it is cheap entertainment.

As our children grew, we did not attend the show as much. So, this year, we decided to go again. Some things have changed, and some things have not.

People still like the machines--this year, there were a series of antique farm machines. Here is an old threshing machine.

This is a shingle splitter. I love the brilliant colors of the machine.

And, of course, there are the NEW machines--although there were far fewer of these than my husband and I recalled seeing in past years. Maybe the economy has made purchasing such machines more dear.

Children still love to play. Here, they had a sandbox full of corn to push around, and load. They loved it.

We wandered into the one arena to find a woman on a mustang--she was miked and as she rode around she extolled the virtues of these wild horses, and told how she bid on and got the horse she rode.

Another arena had ponies pulling weight--you can see the strain of the ponies in the blur of the photo.

And here is the weight they were pulling--we left as the announcer said "MORE WEIGHT."

People always go to the farm show for the animals. Last time we were there, there were no alpacas--now there are.

Not all animals are real--this entire scene is sculpted from butter (I am not kidding) and is the signature symbol of the Farm Show.

Here's the proof.

There were at least a half dozen cooking demonstration stands--all very popular, though I suspect it was really because they had chairs people could sit on. And they did. I don't know if they bought the cookware.

The more traditional animals--pigs even though there were many swine flu posters among the FFA entries.

And lots of lovely cows. Our local television news tells us these cows get bathed daily AND blow-dried while at the farm show.

We lasted less than 3 hours--tired out, we returned home. I think the Farm Show is a lot more fun if you have an awe-struck child in tow!


Peruby said...

I have read about (and seen pics of) the butter sculptures. I had no idea PA had their state fair during the winter and indoors. Great info!

Faithe said...

I agree with you...the Farm Show definitely is much more fun if you have children.

Your pictures brought back a lot of memories. As a child, and even through my teen years, I enjoyed going each year. Then as I married and had childen of my own, it was exciting to take them as often as we could. Now it is the grandchildren who enjoy this "field trip" the most.

Thanks for the interesting perspective of our annual State Fair. Well written.

Jayne said...

I have vivid memories of going to the county fair with my grandparents and seeing a huge sow with piglets. It is something so many kids don't get to see these days. Long live the tradition of county fairs!

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

The Fair is a lot like the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, which is held in late Fall. It is also inside on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. I loved the agriculture fair. I was fated to some day live on a farm property with animals as a result of this love affair.

What is so old about the thrashing machine, my neighbour has one like it in his shed (not that I ever saw it work.) When I first came here I knew one person that still used a binder to bind up grain bundles to be stooked to dry, then thrashed. That technology has gone.

The pig looks like my "boar ass"
(excuse the crude humour) which I had for years as a pet. I have had most of the animals you mention at one time or another but never an alpaca. My neighbour does have a Llama.The gal on the mustang seems to have a bridle without a bit. Bless her. They can be cruelly used on a horse's mouth. Must be a well train horse. I know the US is struggling with all the wild mustangs. Ranchers see them a a threat to the public grazing land they get to use really cheaply. I hope they do not kill them all off and make dog food out of them.

You didn't show home made things that farm women made to be judged or any small critters: ducks, chickens and rabbits which I always found fascinating, (also judged).

The butter sculpture is great. Our farm show alway had one too and you could try to judge it's weight.

The most spectacular thing you may not have had is the show of large teams of draft horses like the Budweisser Team they used to show in TV commercials. It can be an expensive hobby for some wealthy farmers (if that is not an oxymoron these days.

Thanks for the trip to the show. Makes Winter seem shorter.

Ginnie said...

sculptures made of BUTTER and a "sand"box made of corn "sand". It sounds like lots of fun to me !

possumlady said...

I'll be your awe-struck child! I love going to agricultural fairs. Last fair I went to was the Minnesota State Fair in 2003. Loved seeing all the animals, and was there when they were having judging on draft horse colts. They were SO adorable clopping around on their big feet. Of course, their mothers had to come along to the judging areas as the colts would not leave their mothers.

They also have butter sculptures. They have a beauty? paegent every year for daughters of farmers around the state to vie for the Princess Kay of the Milky Way title. The winner gets her likeness carved in butter!

Climenheise said...

I always assumed that PA Farm Show was in January to help make sure you get snow.

Denise said...

We still enjoy going to our county 4-H fair, even though no little ones in tow. It is our state’s largest county fair, second only to the State Fair. I enjoy the animals, all of them, but I especially love the llamas! They are great! Why do they have the State Fair in January when school is in session?

dguzman said...

Hurray for butter sculptures!

RuthieJ said...

Looks like a fun fair Donna. When I go to the fair I first go to see the knitting projects and ribbons that were won and then I like to spend the rest of my time in the animal barns. Thanks for sharing your photos with those of us who have to wait until summer to visit a fair.

Anvilcloud said...

My eyes are still a bit blurry, so I had to re-read the line about the woman on the wild horse. I thought I read that she had been milked.