By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
HARRISBURG — Competitors aren’t the only ones in the Valley getting ready for the 2013 Pennsylvania Farm Show, set to begin with a special food preview today in Harrisburg.
Among the new attractions at the state’s annual agricultural celebration are a polo demonstration, new baking competitions and bacon-on-a-stick.
“It’s just what it sounds like,” said Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Nicole Bucher. “It’s like a bacon kebab.”
Already popular at fairs in the Midwest, bacon-on-a-stick is expected to be a big hit at the Farm Show, Bucher said.
“It’s definitely a novelty item, and I think many people will get it to say that they’ve had bacon-on-a-stick,” she said.
Rob Orama, of Mifflinburg, said he’s excited to try the bacon-on-a-stick during his annual trip to the Farm Show, adding that its portability could be a plus.
“I’ve never had bacon-on-a-stick, but I love bacon,” he said. “If it is on a stick, you can walk around with it.”
Guests will be able to sample the bacon treat and other new food-court offerings, including veal meatball sandwiches, pumpkin funnel cakes and apple cider slushies, during a special food court preview from noon to 9 today. Parking at the 24-acre Farm Show Complex is free for the preview, Bucher said.
The Farm Show opens in full on Saturday.
The food is Orama’s favorite part of the show, he said.
“I especially like honey ice cream and cinnamon sticky buns, and I am looking forward to trying some of the new food items this year,” he said.
The theme of this year’s Farm Show is “Made in PA, it makes a difference,” which highlights the major role agriculture plays in the state’s economy, Bucher said.
“These are uncertain economic times, and we wanted to make sure everyone knew how agriculture was contributing to the state’s economy,” she said.
The agriculture industry has a $67 billion impact on the state and supports one in seven jobs, Bucher said.
“We’re all touched by agriculture,” she said.
To show people how modern farms work, visitors will once again be able to see how animals live on Pennsylvania’s farms at the “Today’s Agriculture” exhibit, said Mark O’Neill, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, a co-sponsor of the exhibit.
“It’s made up of a huge barn that’s built inside the Farm Show Complex. It’s 84 feet long and 42 feet wide,” he said. “There are several animals that are housed in this barn. ... It’s showing animals as they are in a modern farm operation.”
Farmers also will be on hand to answer questions from the public, and the exhibit also features displays of farm equipment, O’Neill said.
“People can’t really go out to every farm their food comes from, so this is the next best thing,” he said.
The exhibit was visited by “hundreds of thousands of people” last year and is expected to be popular again this year, O’Neill said. “Today’s Agriculture” will open to the public Saturday.
Other new activities include a grape stomping competition and wine tasting area to celebrate Pennsylvania’s wine industry, an expanded apiary products display and a cow patty bingo event to benefit the Farm Show’s scholarship foundation.