HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Along Maclay Street in Harrisburg is a state historical marker about the Pennsylvania Farm Show. It sits on the front lawn of the Farm Show Complex, a facility that started big and has been getting bigger ever since.
The first Pennsylvania Farm Show took place from January 23-25, 1917. The event was housed in the Emerson-Brantingham farm implement building on Market Street in Harrisburg. That was the last time the show would be all in one place for thirteen years. During that time exhibits were spread out in locations all across Harrisburg.
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Within a few years, plans were in the works to create a permanent location for the exhibition, but it wasn’t until 1931 that the first Farm Show building opened to the public. The Main Exhibition Hall, with its art deco styling and eye-catching relief sculptures, was constructed on a 40-acre lot along Paxton Creek. For the first time, all the Farm Show exhibits could be seen under one roof.
The North Hall was added next, providing more space for livestock, then in 1939, the Large Arena opened, giving the Farm Show a place to seat lots of people together for big events.
In 1953, the milk house facility was constructed, where the daily round of milking cows could get a boost from modern technology.
The Northwest barn was added in the 1970s and the Northeast Hall in the 1990s.
And n 2001, work began on a massive $76 million expansion. Added were the Exposition Hall, the Equine Arena and Barn, and new connecting halls between the buildings.
Today the Farm Show Complex has nearly one million square feet of exhibit space, or about 24 acres, spread out among eight major buildings, and three arenas. Add in the on-site parking space, and we’re talking about an 80 acre facility-big enough to host more than one event at a time.
In fact, the Farm Show hosts over 200 events every year, big and small. It’s indeed an unusual week when nothing is happening at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.