Win or lose, state farm show entrants strive to be competitive
With participants from every corner of the state, the Pennsylvania Farm Show aims to draw the best in agriculture from throughout the commonwealth, with some local residents included.
April Rob, secretary/treasurer of the Derry Township Agricultural Fair, said adults and children alike from the area who participated in everything from square dancing to beekeeping are always among the winners — or very near them.
“Nobody from our group got on Champions Row, but we were close,” Rob said.
Jodi Musick of Unity usually shows chickens at the statewide convention held Jan. 5-12, which showcased goats for the first time.
“To me, my goats are a lot different from my chickens,” Musick said. “With my goats, it's a slower learning process for me.”
One of Musick's two goats, a Nigerian Dwarf, took Reserve Champion Junior in its class, while the other took third-place honors.
Guiding the goat around the ring and setting its feet in a box formation proved an extra challenge for Musick, whose chickens are less hands-on when showing.
“I know there were a lot of good breeders there, and a lot of them have had (goats) for many years,” she said. “I was pleased with how they did.”
Musick, who also entered seven chickens in the judging, won Best of Variety and Reserve of Variety with her Old English Game Wheatens.
Her mother, Shirley Musick, won Reserve Champion this year with her White Bearded Silkie Hen.
Also showing poultry, Rob and her 20-year-old son Christopher Rob took some farm show honors as well.
He won Reserve of Variety for three of his Silkie chickens in different variety categories, and she won a similar prize for her Cochin Black chicken.
“Our kids were very well-represented,” April Rob said of Derry and Latrobe local participants, including seven square-dance teams that all took first place in their respective age categories.
About 45 students from the Derry Area High School Future Farmers of America visited the farm show, including students who toured the complex in Harrisburg and some who showed animals.
Adviser Roy Campbell said seven students worked on a video project competition, “Agricultural Career Connections.”
The students had to develop a video presentation and “scrapbook” page about how they produced the video, which was required to describe the education and training necessary for a job in agriculture.
“They had to develop their plan of action and what they were going to do with the video,” Campbell said.
Students chose to highlight a greenhouse manager, partnering with Westmoreland County Community College to explain the horticulture program in the five to seven minutes required for the project.
From there, the video team visited Laurel Nursery in Unity, owned by Ken and Patty Heese, where they presented an overview of the day-to-day responsibilities of a greenhouse manager.
Eleven FFA chapters competed from across the state for a People's Choice Award, which went to the video from Cumberland County, but each team received a $600 prize from Lancaster Farming magazine.
Campbell said he takes pride in students' dedication to their animals and projects culminating at the farm show, whether or not they are official winners.
“I enjoy seeing that they really get motivated by it, not just at the farm show, but raising and showing (the animals) in general,” he said. “It gives them that hands-on experience.”
Campbell also thanked FFA assistant Jana Reed and parents who helped students at the farm show.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.