Farm families, agribusiness workers and visitors who want to get an up-close look at livestock and the latest in farm products will want to attend the 97th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show.
As many as 400,000 people are expected to converge on Harrisburg for the yearly event, which begins this weekend.
The show, which is the nation’s largest indoor agricultural showcase, opens Saturday and continues through Jan. 12 at the Farm Show Complex, located off Exit 23 of Interstate 81.
The theme for the 2013 show is “Made in Pa.; It makes a difference.”
Pennsylvania farmers look at the farm show as an opportunity for them to talk to the regular consumers of food.
The show has more than 24 acres under roof, boasts more than 16 acres of exhibits, food and entertainment and is spread throughout 11 buildings and three arenas.
Visitors will see youth livestock shows, cooking demonstrations, educational displays, celebrity contests and some of the state’s most delectable foods.
The show is expected to include nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors.
In addition, exhibitors can vie for more than $500,000 in prize money.
The show is a family-oriented event that demonstrates the rural culture of America.
One of the biggest attractions has been the food court, which features all Pennsylvania foods.
Located in the Expo Hall and Main Hall of the complex, the food court offers visitors a variety of state products, including honey ice cream, honey waffles, baked potatoes, potato donuts, lamb stew, beef meatball sandwiches, beef sausage, jumbo hot dogs, Italian sausage and steak salad.
For dessert, there are ice-cream sundaes, apple dumplings with ice cream and caramel apples on sticks.
Livestock is just the tip of the exhibition iceberg.
Along with cattle, sheep, horses, goats and rabbits, there are continuous demonstrations ranging from cooking and weaving to beekeeping and environmental seminars.
Other highlights include a hobby lobby featuring quirky competitions from a duct-tape contest to decorated bowling pin and snazzy sneaker entries.
Also new to the family-living section are contests featuring gourd crafts, clay flowerpots and pincushions.
“The Sport of Kings” comes to the farm show during a polo demonstration at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 10 in the equine arena.
There’s a new buzz at the show this year with the addition of judged honey products including sauces, beverages and salad dressings.
Of the more than 62,000 farms in Pennsylvania, 97 percent are family owned.
One in seven jobs in the state is related to agriculture.
Admission is free to all farm show events.
Parking is available on the 60-acre site and costs $10 per vehicle.
There also will be free shuttle buses running from off-site lots.
If you go ...
What: 97th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Where: Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center, 2301 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg.
When: Saturday through Jan. 12.
Information: www.farmshow.state.pa.us or (717) 787-5373.