By Austin Brown, news editor and Rachel Barner, staff writer
For 100 years, the Pennsylvania Farm Show has educated the general public on what Pennsylvania Agriculture is all about. On Jan. 9 – 16, Saegertown students proudly contributed to this heritage. People from all over the country flock to Harrisburg to take part in the events held at the Farm Show Complex. Deputy Secretary for Animal Health and Food Safety Gregory Hostetter said, “(Farm Show) is an opportunity to educate the
consumers on Ag during the event.”
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the nation, with nearly 10,000 competitive exhibits, 300 commercial exhibits, and nearly 6,000 animals. With such a wide variety of entertainment, visitors have much to look forward to each year. Hostetter said his favorite part of the Farm Show is looking at all the exhibits and new technology as well as catching up with old friends and making new ones. While Sharon Altland, the Executive Director of the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, enjoys the positive response that the event receives from a variety of people.
This year, the main focus was to educate youth on agricultural jobs. According to new data from the United States Department of Agriculture, there will be 57,900 annual job to 2020. Yet with decreasing interest, the capability to run such events as Farm Show is handed down to a minority in today’s culture. Altland added, “This could not happen without the youth. It all starts with the family farm. Events like this teach responsibility and creates an interest in agriculture, so we will have people to take over the agricultural job openings.”
Many of the Farm Show events were televised, including the square dancing competition that showcased the skills of 11 Saegertown students: Sam and Ben Shelenberger; Rachel and Nathan Barner; Emily and Brittany Barr Kenny, Patrick, and Emily Dunn; Marley McGowan; and Amanda Crowl. “I like square dancing at the barn dances. I like both traditional and modern square dancing.” These students competed in four sets of eight, and all four of the sets won first place.
“The Blue Ribbon Experience” continued for Saegertown’s youth throughout the duration of the show. Patrick and Kenny Dunn both exhibited market hogs. Patrick placed first in his class. While Kenny was awarded the Reserve Champion in the Light Heavyweight division, Emily Dunn exhibited a market goat that placed fifth in her class. “I think I that I did pretty good, and it was my first time showing at the Farm Show,” said Emily about her experience at Farm Show.
Austin Brown exhibited eight AOB texel sheep, winning the Premier Breeder, which is a collective score based on the placing of the individual sheep. Between the Junior and Open shows, Brown won one Champion and three Reserve Champions. Gary Saylor, the 2016 Open Show Sheep Judge, said, “This is a very special type of ram, which will go on to do special things.” Courtney Hess entered four quilts in the show, placing Best of Show. She also had three first places and one second place.
With such successes, Saegertown students plan to compete again next year. “I would do it again next year (square dancing) because it is fun meeting new people and dancing to catchy tunes,”said Sam Shelenberger.