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The Pennsylvania Farm Show is back in person, but attendance is down

Opening Ceremonies for the 106th Pennsylvania Farm Show
Pennsylvania Farm Show
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The PA Dairy Princesses and Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding cutting the ribbon at the 106th Pennsylvania Farm Show. Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell C. Redding and Pennsylvania Farm Show supporters and participants taking part in a opening ceremony and ribbon cutting. Opening Ceremonies for the 106th Pennsylvania Farm Show took place on the Maclay Street Steps. The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof in the nation, running from Saturday, January 8 through Saturday January 15. Harrisburg PA - Saturday, January 8.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is back in person for 2022, the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but participants and attendees may not be ready to visit.

More than 12,000 people participated in the Farm Show’s competitive events two years ago before the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to hold a virtual show in 2021.

This year only about 2,200 people have participated in events and commercial vendors and competitive exhibitors have continued to cancel past the first day of the show on Saturday. That was to be expected officials said.

“We knew attendance by visitors, vendors and exhibitors would be low this year as we navigate the return of a large-scale event in a new era,” said Shannon Powers, press secretary for the state Agriculture Department, in a statement. “We are glad to see Pennsylvanians exercising their right to choose what’s best for themselves.”

Powers added that the Department of Agriculture enacted a number of safety precautions like installing a new HVAC system for improved air quality and wider aisles to reduce congestion.

“We have made masks and hand sanitizer plentiful around the complex and even made COVID-19 vaccines and boosters available daily, in addition to the flu shots typically offered by the Department of Health at the show,” Powers said.

Those that do attend the Farm Show in person are able to catch a glimpse of Pennsylvania’s 52,000 farms and 7.3 million acres of farm land in Pennsylvania. That translates into about $84 billion in direct economic output, 280,000 jobs and $10.9 billion in earnings.

State Agriculture Secretary Russel Redding said the Farm Show offers a platform to inspire the younger generation to get into the farming business.

“People have to be aware that agriculture is a place of meaningful employment,” he said. Well, how do they know that? That’s why the farm show provides a wonderful opportunity to do that.”

Visitors also learn more about the food system and supply chain.

“That’s a wonderful piece for us as farm and producers,” Redding said. “Because folks want to know who, how do I do this? How do I find that? Where do I buy them? That has spawned this great conversation.”

Read more from our partners, WITF.