Every January, in Harrisburg, inside a very large building complex (the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex), future farmers and homemakers get together to show off their best projects that they have worked on at their schools. They are joined by farmers and 4Hers who also have brought along their best. It is a week of nothing but the best, topped off by a show of equestrian excellence by members of the Pennsylvania State Police Equestrian Squad.
A week before the show is opened to the public, the exhibitors arrive to set up their displays in the various windows and tables that surround the arena. Items are brought to the show and placed in their appropriate categories. Judging is done before the show opens to the public.
I was privy to this behind the scenes event for five years thanks to my foster mother. She worked for the state department of education as a supervisor of home economics education. Working the farm show was just one of her many duties, but it was the only one that she took me along on. For the five days that we were there, I had the run of the place while she worked, and I explored every nook and cranny of the building.
The farm show complex was full of marvels and I made an effort to see all of them. I saw the ugliest river critter I could imagine at the state boat commission booth. I met state police dogs up close and even got close to one of the equestrian show horses. I watched peeps hatch in an incubator (nothing new for me there) and got to see some very large hogs. I climbed up on farm equipment that would be more at home in the Midwest than in a small PA farm. I watched as the butter sculpture took shape, and watched the ice sculptures being made. Every so often I would even get a taste of a pie or cake that had been submitted for judging. Two of each were brought to the show; one to be tasted and the other for display!
I was on television once but I didn’t get to see myself. I was interviewed on the local news. They asked questions about the farm show. I don’t remember what I said, but apparently it was good and impressed a lot of people.
The highlight of it was always the free tickets to the PA State Police Equestrian and Dog show and the entrance of the Governor in his carriage into the arena. I haven’t been back in years. It just wouldn’t be that same without the behind the scenes access.