This week is the 94th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, “the largest indoor agricultural event in the country,” or so they claim. I am devastated that due to work schedules I probably won’t be able to attend. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to go—or at the very least, like me, watching it all week long on the PCN Channel. Over the years, I’ve gone many times, and every time, I see and learn something new.
Sure, there are the things some people laugh at—the sheep-to-shawl contest, the butter sculpture contest, and the tractor square dancing. But every time I go there, I end up crying out of pure pleasure because it is so damn heartwarming to see so many people (over 400,000 attend every year) taking so much joy in country living. This is a world that exists completely outside the realm of my everyday, sophisticated, New York-publishing grind. Yet it feels so much more real. Whether it’s watching the 6-year-olds auction off their 4H pigs and cows, watching the high-school rodeo kids doing stuff I can only dream of doing (calf roping and barrel racing), or watching the elderly folks square dance all night long in fabulous, flouncy matching outfits, it’s a world that feels both lost and found again.
Sometimes, I do get depressed at the Farm Show because I can see that organic has barely scratched the surface of this traditional world. And all the chemical-company sponsorships and GMO-seed-logo hats that the old farm guys wear remind me that we have a long, hard battle to fight to heal the planet.
But then, I think of all the good things—the maple syrup cotton candy and the duckling slide—and forget my troubles. And this year you can watch the ducklings on a webcam! At the end of the day, all of us love baby animals!
Luciano! Luciano forever!
I love the duckling webcam!
I went to the PA farm show for the first time yesterday, based on your posts from last year. What a treat. Then came home to watch Cranford on PBS. Both shows were reminders that simple farming societies may seem sweet and idyllic, but they’re more complex than that. Also a reminder about how important it is to understand and sometimes question “progress.” Agriculture is BIG business and ingrained ideas — organic/small growers really need support to succeed in that universe. Thanks for the intro to a great event. Next year I spend the whole day at the show, eating honey waffles and trying to absorb the slooower pace everyone moves at.
The duckling webcam just made my day. I am going to put the “show” times on my calendar this week.
Have never been, but I will try to attend next year.
I discovered the farm show a few years after moving to eastern PA, and now I try to make it every year. My husband and I are headed there this Thursday – can’t wait! I take issue with anyone who would dare to laugh at sheep-to-shawl, the butter sculpture, or tractor square dancing. Those are probably my top three favorites at the farm show! Closely followed by hanging around for the end of the shoo-fly pie judging and getting to sample the entries…