Wine judging contest an addition to Butler Farm Show's schedule

| Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, 8:03 p.m.

As it enters its 65th year, the Butler Farm Show has more to offer than its humble beginning as a plowing contest.

A wine judging contest is new to the show this year, said Jim Lokhaiser, director of marketing and promotions for the farm show. He said expects 20 to 30 amateur wine makers from across the county to enter their homemade wines in the competition, which was added after a push by the state Department of Agriculture to promote wine making.

“By golly, you can't believe the number of entries we've had,” he said. “So the competition is going to be pretty keen.”

The Butler Farm Show runs from Monday to Saturday at the Butler Farm Show grounds along Route 68 in Butler and Connoquenessing townships, and offers carnival rides, truck and tractor pulls, a demolition derby and an array of agricultural exhibits for which the show is known.

“There's a lot of educational stuff on the grounds during the show. People don't know what goes into farming,” Lokhaiser said. “Families come to ride the rides, and over the course of their visit walk around and see the animals. And the animals aren't just being shown — the people are there to answer any questions about them.”

The nonprofit farm show began in 1947.

The farm show follows by about a month the older, larger and longer Big Butler Fair that also offered agricultural judging competitions and a carnival. The fair ran for nine days in early July. It draws about 100,000 visitors each year.

About 60,000 to 65,000 people are expected to come through the gates of the farm show during its six-day run, Lokhaiser said.

Farm show organizers said each event has thrived because while similar, they are different.

Dutch Grabe, farm show board member, said the farm show draws more people wanting to show their animals, wares and produce. By the beginning of August, people have produce to harvest and animals ready for market, so there are more agricultural exhibits than at the fair.

“We're perfectly positioned as far as the time frame is concerned here,” Lokhaiser said.

The farm show tends to be more local, while the fair seems to draw from a larger geographic area, he said.

One of the farm show's big attractions is a junior livestock auction put on by the 4-H and FFA groups. The grand champion and reserve champion lambs, rabbits, beef, poultry, hogs and goats are auctioned to the highest bidder.

Lokhaiser said the auction is the culmination of a year-long effort of the kids in 4-H and FFA.

“It's like the Super Bowl of 4-H and FFA,” he said.

Last year the grand champion steer sold for more than $22,000, Lokhaiser said, and the auction sold more than $300,000 in livestock, with the money going to the animals' owners. There are 1,271 animals registered at the fair this year.

Judged competitions include not only animals, but everything from vegetables and hay to quilts and baked goods.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or

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