After the excitement of the holidays, most people settle in for the cold and dreary winter months of relative boredom. No more presents, no more twinkling lights.
Those people don’t have the Pennsylvania Farm Show to look forward to!
This year’s show is going to cost you just a little bit more — $5 to be exact. Parking rates will be $15 per car. For comparison, Walt Disney World charges $20 per day to park. To be fair, though, admission to the Farm Show is free after parking (not so much for Disney World).
Despite the increase in parking, the Farm Show is still a fantastic way to spend a thrifty day with the whole family. Yes, that’s right, there is way more to do than drink milkshakes and eat fried cheese cubes.
Here are five awesome things to do for FREE at the Farm Show:
AgExplorers and scavenger hunts. AgExplorers learning stations are set up around the Farm Show offering “fun, interactive and hands-on learning” for the whole family. Participants can learn things such as where milk comes from, how important bees are to us and the food we eat, and how much can be grown on an acre of farmland. Maps guide explorers throughout the complex, and stations are identified by the AgExplore logo. Stations are staffed 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt will include three new markers for 2016. Visit the PHMC booth in the Main Hall to pick up a scavenger hunt booklet, then get started on your search.
Culinary Connection. The Culinary Connection area in the Main Hall is one of my favorites. Every day there are cooking demonstrations with local foods prepared by local chefs — and they often end with free samples of the recipe. Also, wander your way around the vendor booths for an assortment of other free samples. For all those Food Network lovers, Gina Neely, star of “Down Home with the Neelys” and “Road Tasted,” will be on the Culinary Connection stage at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9.
Ice cream scoop-off. If you hadn’t heard, this year is the 100th Farm Show, so there are several birthday celebration events. (It’s also rumored the new milkshake flavor will be birthday cake.) The new ice cream scoop-off combines the Farm Show birthday with the 150th anniversary of the Penn State Berkey Creamery. During the event, Department of Agriculture officials, Penn State University faculty and students, and Pennsylvania Dairy royalty will go scoop-to-scoop at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16. (OK, I don’t actually know what that means, but it’s sure to be entertaining.) And visitors will have the opportunity to sample Berkey Creamery’s new Birthday Bash ice cream flavor.
Make it and take it. If you plan on heading over to the Farm Show with little ones during the week (something I highly recommend to beat the crowds), try planning your visit to be there between noon and 2 p.m. At that time, the Family Living department will offer a different item that kids can make and take home with them. Just so you know, the Family Living department is the one that hosts all those food and craft competitions — like the Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Contest.
The animals, duh. My daughter’s absolute favorite thing about the Farm Show is seeing all the animals. In the past, she has been able to pet a horse (and freaked out when a butterfly landed on her head in the butterfly house). There are always tons of cows, chickens, goats and rabbits. You also can see alpacas, pigs and sheep. Just be sure to bring lots of hand sanitizer!