HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania Farm Show can date back to as early as the mid-1600s.
William Penn created the Agriculture Show which would occur in other locations before settling in Harrisburg.
This show would continue until 1917 when William and Thomas Price created a three-day state-wide gathering called the Pennsylvania Corn, Fruit, Vegetable, Dairy Products, and Wool Show.
This 1917 show had around 5,000 visitors and the event slowly became popular.
In 1931 over 50,000 people would visit the event that now had homemaking exhibits, competitive livestock, maple products, and more entertainment.
A new larger building that was 10 acres for the event would open on Jan. 19, 1931, by the next farm show a stadium that fits around 7,600 people would be added.
During World War II, the Farm Show Complex would be used for the war effort.
In 1953, an $8.7 million budget was approved for the installation of a sprinkler system, an elevator, and a fire alarm system; creation of fire corridors, removal of wooden stands and stalls; construction of the Northwest Hall and replacement of 900 doors.
A milk house facility and a 10-acre expansion of the north parking lot were also constructed during this time.
The Farm Show Complex was close to being moved in the ’70s with locations such as Lancaster, Hershey, and Susquehanna Township appearing as front runners but it was decided that Harrisburg would remain the location of the Farm Show.
Keeping the complex in Harrisburg meant that it would need renovations and in 2001 a $76 million expansion/renovation began that included the Exposition Hall, Equine Arena, Equine Barn, wash racks, connector links, new heat, and air handling units in the Large and Small Arenas, a new entrance to the Large Arena and an additional off-site parking area.
Today, the Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agriculture event in the world, is a week-long, can host up to 500,000 visitors every January, and includes 24 acres of animals, educational encounters, displays, and food, family, and fun.