Locals and seasoned visitors know the Pennsylvania Farm Show is one of the region’s most anticipated events. As the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the country, the Farm Show welcomes more than half a million visitors each year, along with 6,000 animals, hundreds of exhibits and vendors, dozens of demonstrations and contests, and one incredible butter sculpture! With 24 acres of agricultural entertainment, where does one begin?
What, When, Where?
Must-Sees and Dos
The Farm Show boasts eight full days of shows, competitions, demonstrations, and exhibits. If you’re having trouble deciding what to see and do, here are a few crowd favorites!
At Sheep-to-Shawl, the crowd can watch piles of sheep’s wool get spun and weaved by a team of artisans into beautiful competition shawls. Similarly, Angora rabbits are the fluffiest around, and rabbit breeders weave angora fibers from the bunny to the loom at Angora Palooza. If you like rabbits, don’t miss the Celebrity Rabbit Hopping competition where kids with show bunnies are paired with local personalities as the cotton-tailed competitors hop along an obstacle course.
The PA Preferred Culinary Connection stage features cooking challenges and samples. This year, young chefs compete in a meatball making showdown and cooks representing the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy go head to head in a “Chopped”-style contest to prep best meal from a box of miscellaneous ingredients.
See the ‘Greatest Show on Dirt,’ the First Frontier Rodeo, Jan. 11-13. You’ll need to purchase tickets in advance, but the excitement is worth the purchase! New this year, witness breathtaking freestyle bull fighting Thursday and Friday!
You’re going to get your steps in walking around the Farm Show. Make the trek even more enjoyable as you and the family become Pennsylvania Farm Show AgExplorers! Follow the map to roughly 20 interactive stations throughout the complex to learn about all things PA Agriculture, like maple syrup production, mushrooms, veterinary medicine, PA wildlife, forestry with the step-on PA Woodmobile, and more!
Like many visitors, you might be coming to see the herds of animals large and small. These are the best times to check out your favorite barnyard pals outside of competitions:
- Horses: All week
- Beef Cattle: Opening Sat. – Tues.
- Dairy Cattle: Tues. – Closing Sat.
- Pigs: Opening Sat. – Mon.
- Sheep: All week
- Goats: Wed. – Closing Sat.
- Rabbits: All week
- Poultry: All week
- Alpacas: Mon. – Wed.
Say ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of the baby calves born each day of the show at the Calving Corner.
It’s very important that you come hungry. With a weeklong celebration of agriculture and farming, you know the food is going to be fresh and delicious, which is why The Food Court is so popular!
Despite the January weather, these legen-DAIRY milkshakes are a must. Last year, the PA Dairymen’s Association churned out 23,000 shakes a day. With demand like that, they’ve got to be good!
If you thought you knew all the ways to eat a potato, sample the potato doughnuts by PA Cooperative Potato Growers, Inc., made hot and fresh before your eyes.
When you’re in the mood for a fresh crunch, the PA Vegetable Growers Association offers everything from salads and wraps to batter-dipped veggies and blooming onions.
It goes without saying that you’ll find a seemingly endless array of savory sandwiches, from pork barbecue and beef brisket to turkey burgers and sausages. Not to mention the pizza, soups, pies, funnel cakes, apple cider, wine, and so much more! When you’ve realized you can’t possibly take another bite, visit the PA Marketplace to grab take-home goodies from more than 50 PA products!
Things You Don’t See Every Day
The Farm Show is a lot of what you’d expect—farm animals, tractors, and competitions—and some things you don’t see every day, like a sculpture made entirely of butter. The American Dairy Association North East keeps its carving design a secret until its revealed, but we can tell you that it will be chiseled with roughly 1,000 pounds of golden goodness. In case you’re worried that so much good butter will go to waste, they use expired butter that would have otherwise been discarded!
Another thing you don’t see around the pond are dozens of fuzzy, yellow ducklings having fun on a slide! You’d be surprised how many folks crowd around to watch the frolicking waterfowl!
You probably expected to see lots of animals, but how about animals in costume? Alpacas are quite agreeable when it comes to clothing and happily don dresses, boas, wigs, hats, jerseys, and other creative apparel for a one-of-a-kind farm fashion show and costume contest.
While you can imagine that square dancing has a home at the Farm Show, it’s a unique sight to behold when the arena floor is filled with hundreds of dancers spinning and twirling their teams toward a blue ribbon. If you think their performance takes coordination, wait until you see the tractors. What? Yes, tractor square dancing is the quirkiest Farm Show attraction and a big crowd pleaser. It’s not every day you can witness eight tractors circling and promenading with expert precision.
There’s so much to see and do (and eat) at the Farm Show! While you can wander around, pick a show or two to see, but set aside about 3 hours to explore. Make your Farm Show experience as hassle free as possible with these traveler tips:
- Best Times to Visit: The ideal time to visit the Farm Show is between 9 AM and noon. The busiest times are weekends and weekdays from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM.
- Getting Here: Before you reach the Hershey Harrisburg Region, download the PA 511 app for the latest travel alerts and traffic maps. There’s a Farm Show function that can help you avoid snafus in and around Harrisburg.
- Parking: At peak times the main parking lot can fill up. Stay tuned to the Farm Show’s Facebook page for lot updates. You can also unload everyone at the main entrance of the Cameron Street Lobby, then park the car in the lot.
- Getting Around: There’s a lot of walking at the Farm Show, and for those visitors with mobility issues, the Farm Show Complex & Expo Center provides wheelchairs free of charge, first come, first served.
- Pets: For the safety of all animals on the property, no pets are allowed except service dogs.
Get even more answers to frequently asked questions, plus tips, maps, and more!
The Hershey Harrisburg Region boasts fun all year long, and we hope you come baaaaaaaaa-ck again in 2018!