Residents, Businesses To Participate In Farm Show
From rodeos and dairy showmanship to visiting wineries and cooking demonstrations, the much-anticipated annual Pennsylvania Farm Show continues to please the masses that turn out for a firsthand glimpse of the 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial booths that pack Harrisburg’s Farm Show Complex.
Slated to get under way this Saturday, January 4, the eight-day event will not only draw in plenty of spectators from Fulton County and the surrounding area but an array of local businesses and residents who will be showcasing their wares and talents. Among those scheduled to be on hand for the 98th annual Farm Show that runs through January 11 will be the Burnt Cabins Grist Mill owned by Greg and Dawn Harnish.
The 2014 event will be the eighth consecutive year the Grist Mill will be represented by the Harnish family and their dedicated helpers, who range from friends and family to seasonal campers who stay at the Grist Mill’s adjoining campground. The group is planning on undertaking 12-hour shifts daily, running from 8 a.m. until at least 8 p.m. to ensure that anyone walking by the booth gets a sample of their renowned buckwheat pancakes.
Helping dish out those delectable morsels will be seasonal campers and husband and wife duo Lee and Lea Cisney. Lee’s dedication to the Grist Mill knows no bounds as he is scheduled to take a week’s vacation from his job to help all eight days of the
Farm Show, the Harnishes stated.
Looking back to their very first appearance at the Farm Show, which is touted as the largest indoor agricultural exhibition in the nation, the Harnishes said they’ve certainly learned how to become more efficient at serving up samples as well as setting up their booth.
In fact, according to Dawn, “The biggest thing we have learned is that when you think you have the customer figured out, you realize you don’t. You have to constantly keep things new and fresh to keep the consumer’s attention.”
Last year, the Grist Mill served more than 27,000 taste-bud tingling samples at the Farm Show. This year’s sampling will include daily tastings of buckwheat pancakes as well as additional product samples on other show days. By the week’s end, the Grist Mill staff will offer up samples of whole wheat hotcakes, pancakes and waffles and buttermilk, pumpkin and their newest mix, apple pancake.
“We hope to hand out as many samples as last year, but our ultimate goal is to sell more and sample less,” said Dawn, who added their previous exposure at the Farm Show is responsible for expanding their sales and market area to locally-owned grocers and markets. While the Farm Show is undoubtedly the largest event the Harnish family attends, their promotional efforts also include four to six Christmas-themed events running from late October through early December as well the RV show in York during March to further promote their campground.
Even though the long hours of flipping pancakes can be grueling at times and the possibility of travelling to and from Harrisburg in inclement weather is worrisome, nothing can overshadow the experience of meeting new customers and making lasting friendships. Dawn stated it’s always great to meet and talk to customers who have ties to this area or “have recently discovered the charm of Fulton County.”
“We also love to catch people licking their plates clean of syrup,” said Dawn of their satisfied customers.
Along with the Grist Mill being represented at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this year will be area youths, Harrisonville area resident Jadin Cheshire, Brittany Truax of Hustontown and brothers Colton and Caleb Strait.
The son of Greg and Lynda Strait of McConnellsburg, Colton is in his second year of showing at the Farm Show, while brother Caleb is undoubtedly excited for his very first time participating.
Both Colton, 17, and 11-yearold Caleb are slated to show their market swines this Monday with the sale scheduled for the following day.
According to the Strait family, Colton took home the master showmanship award in his swine’s weight class at the 2013 Farm Show. The brothers would both love to take home master showmanship honors this year and make Tuesday’s sale.
Of course, their trip to the Farm Show wouldn’t be complete without taking a grand tour of the Farm Show Complex with its exhibits and the notorious butter sculpture that takes center stage.