A few weeks ago while looking for something else, I found a box full of really old photo albums in the tiny storage area behind my parents’ bed. Being one who loves to look at old pictures, I took the box downstairs and began going through it. In one of the albums, there were a lot of pictures of farm animals and the like, and my parents were quick to point out that those pictures were from the last time they went to the Pennsylvania State Farm Show – back in 1977. Having grown up on a farm, my mom always enjoys this kind of stuff, so she decided she wanted to go this year to…. relive the good old days? I have no idea.
After a relatively quick trip to my alma mater, Susquehanna University, for a diploma frame (better four-and-a-half years late than never!) and a visit with my friend Jim, we were crossing the river and heading for Harrisburg. Hoo-ray. The first problem became parking. While we were tuned to the AM radio station that should have helped us locate parking lots with ease, it was barely audible and not that helpful. Good thing I have the internet on my phone, because I had to access the website for further parking information to find out what you do when the main lots are full. After driving all through the neighborhood around the Farm Show Complex (a pretty massive building for the area where it sits), we finally figured out where we had to be, and a half hour later, we were parking two miles away in the middle of a corn field. I wish I were being sarcastic, but I’m really not. We waited in line with other cold people for the shuttle bus. Once on the bus, a few really rude people decided to berate the bus driver by calling him stupid and making smart comments to him. The highlight of this bus ride was, for me, the nice Mennonite girl who was my seatmate. She told me all about how she comes to the farm show every year and how her brothers used to show goats there. She smiled a lot and was really excited that she got out of school early today.
The actual Farm Show wasn’t bad. It was kind of overwhelming, though, being that it’s the nation’s largest event of its kind, located in a state where agriculture is the number one industry. There were a lot of displays and vendors. I discovered that a winery near my college was there, and I bought two bottles of wine (one bottle of cranberry and one bottle of something called Mad Moose Mead, which is an orange blossom and honey wine. I’m allergic to grapes, so I’m into finding fruity alternatives), which entitled me to a free insulated carrying bag for them. We roamed around and looked at all of the animals, which was fun. I like animals, and there happened to be a giant room full of sheep, which was good since sheep make me laugh. We had some overpriced lunch that was really nothing all that special (except for the milkshakes – dairy farmers make good milkshakes). It was hard to really take the time to look at anything, though, because you kind of had to move with the flow of people. The building is large, but there were a lot of people there. According to the state’s official website for the farm show, they expect that, total, around 400,000 people will visit over the course of this week. There are a lot of people moving around in there.
When we were tired of playing “push and shove – you’ll get there faster,” which took us all of three hours to accomplish, we decided to go home. It would have been nice to just walk out to the parking lot and get in our car and go, but we had to pick a shuttle bus line and stand in it, an we apparently picked the wrong one. We were about 50 people back from the front of the line, and every bus that came in, without fail, ignored us. It got to the point where people in the front of our line were yelling at the traffic directors and policemen who did little to help us, for the most part. When they finally did start directing buses to our line, the buses weren’t paying attention and kept passing us by. Eventually our line joined with another line, making it twice as long to wait. It was cold and it was windy and a lot of people weren’t very happy. The entire pick-up situation was very, very poorly organized. We waited about forty minutes before we eventually got on a bus. There were no nice Mennonite girls this time. Instead, I had to share my seat with a man who was dressed head to toe in denim and must not have noticed that I was sitting in the seat with him because by the time we got to the parking lot at the top of the hill, just two miles away, I was squished up against the window, unable to turn my head to the right because he kept standing up to talk to people and thus was putting his rear end right in my face.
If you’re really and totally into agriculture, then, by all means, you should attend this event. If you’re just looking for something to do and you aren’t absolutely dying to go, stay home. It’s not worth the parking troubles, big crowds, and disorganized waits (though, my grandfather the farmer swears you won’t have this problem if you get there at 8 a.m.). While I think that my mom wanted to go for the nostalgia – it was something she always used to do as a child with her family – she was annoyed at all of the same things that I was. My parents have already stated that they’ll never return to the farm show, and I’m going to have to go ahead and say that I’m with them on this one.