Here is Zip at 2 1/2 petting cows and having a milkshake for lunch, because that is what one does at the Farm Show. He was an old pro by this point.
Here is Bee at his first Farm Show, checking out the turkeys. My kids can spend a good hour just walking around looking at birds. And the incubator where the baby chicks are hatching? Forget about it. It is all we can do to keep Zip from getting lost in the crowds as he hunts down that incubator.
All this is to say that when I had the opportunity to attend a "VIP Blogger Event" hosted by PennAg Industries on Friday night, I said Heck yeah! I took my best 6-year-old and we hit the road.
I've mentioned before that Pennsylvania is a very farm-y state. We've got Philadelphia on one side and Pittsburgh on the other, but in between it is farmland my friends. Lots and lots of farmland, with a few small cities. So the Farm Show is a huge event in its 96th year that is attended by literally hundreds of thousands of people. Imagine a barn on steroids, then multiply by 100. It is a week of commercial exhibits, competitions, auctions (yes, most of the animals are auctioned), and food. Oh, the food! A lot of people go just for the food because it is that good - especially the milkshakes.
1. Most of the farm animals kids want to see are all in one place. We usually spend hours wandering through the enormous, warehouse-sized halls in the Farm Show Complex, where there are literally thousands of farm animals. That is a lot of fun but if time is an issue, PennAg has all the heavy hitters in one place: cows (beef, dairy, and veal), hens, chicks, turkeys, ducks, and piglets, not to mention some insane tractors that cost more than our house and are probably bigger than it too! The display is located in the Expo Hall, which is adjacent to the Food Court - how convenient!
A couple of last minute tips and suggestions, if your family plans to visit the Farm Show:
- Definitely go during the week if you can - the crowds are smaller and you can usually park on-site. If you are trying to get the day counted as an "Educational Absence," check out the Farm Show Detective Learning Stations.
- Use a baby carrier rather than a stroller, if possible. We've always taken a stroller and it is manageable, but it also means waiting in line for the elevators.
- When "timing" your visit keep in mind that the complex is huge. With small kids in tow, it will probably take 15 minutes or longer to get from the halls where the animals are back to the Food Court. We avoid going back and forth and time our day so that we eat when we're all done seeing the animals or we eat in the Main Hall which has fewer options than the acclaimed Food Court.
- Check out the schedule on the Farm Show website ahead of time to see what events are going on.
As mentioned above, my family was invited by PennAg Industries to tour their exhibit and enjoy a complimentary dinner. All opinions are my own. I have great respect for farmers and believe the Farm Show is a fabulous opportunity to expose kids to agriculture and learn something about where our food comes from. We'll be going back on Monday to do the full-shebang!