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The Pennsylvania Farm Show

WAYNE CAMPBELL

Lemoyne

As with many events, the Pennsylvania Farm Show was forced to go virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a bright spot.

Online programs such as the PDA Listening Session, the Agriculture Law Forum, the Grange Broadband Panel, and a host of farmer education webinars on best practices led by Penn State Extension attracted many who normally cannot or would not have traveled to Harrisburg to attend the farm show in person.

The success of these virtual programs also underscores the importance of universal access to high-speed Broadband as a critical need for much of rural Pennsylvania.

We are nowhere near that goal yet but this year’s Virtual Farm Show showed that despite setbacks, the show will go on!

The Pennsylvania Farm Show was hurt and there is no denying it.

Kids and adults were prevented from showing their skills and animals. Entertainment also suffered with no in-person events such as the hugely popular Tractor Square Dance.

Exhibitors and farm organizations took a financial hit too since much of their revenue comes directly or indirectly from the Farm Show.

Even the iconic Butter Sculpture was a COVID-19 casualty. The local economy suffered a tremendous loss of revenue and will continue to suffer as all events in the foreseeable future have been canceled or were forced to go virtual.

Everyone looks to the return of an in-person Pennsylvania Farm Show next year.

No virtual farm show can ever replace the crowds, the excitement, the animals, and of course those Farm Show Milkshakes.

Still, Broadband enabled the Pennsylvania Farm Show to expand its educational programming.

(Wayne Campbell is president of the Pennsylvania State Grange, founded in 1873 as an advocate for farmers and for the social and economic needs of rural Pennsylvania)

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