How to visit the Farm Show on a budget

Written by Jennifer Wentz, The Evening Sun | Jan 13, 2015 10:08 AM

Admission to the Pennsylvania Farm Show is free. Some of the activities, though, require parting with a little bit of money. With 24 acres of indoor space and more than 300 commercial vendors vying for your attention, holding on to as much as your cash as possible can pose a challenge. But it is possible. Here is one way to spend a day at the show for only $20.



Cost: $10

What that buys you: Parking on-site will cost you half of your money right from the start.  The Farm Show's website recommends arriving between 9 a.m. and noon to avoid congestion. The busiest times are from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.  For directions and more information, visit

Butterfly House

2014 farm show butterfly house 500

Photo by Clare Becker - The Evening Sun

Tanner Banks, 9, of Marian Center, experiences the Folk's Butterfly Farm booth with his parents, Staci and Dennis Banks, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg on Jan. 12. The butterfly booth, 2 gets you 10 minutes, is one of several budget-friendly activities at the show.

Cost: $2

What that buys you: Your $2 will give you at least 10 minutes to explore a 75-degree room filled with hundreds of brightly colored butterflies.

Folk's Butterfly Farm, based in Luzerne County, runs this educational tent in the back of the Main Hall. The experience starts with a 30-second explanation of how butterflies taste using their feet and smell using their antennae.

Then, owner David Folk or one of his employees hands you a cotton swab soaked in Gatorade to help attract the butterflies and lets you inside to explore.

Inside, Monarchs, Swallowtails and Buckeye butterflies hang on the walls and trellises covered in artificial flowers. Educational stations along the way explain the life cycle of a butterfly.


Cost: $2

What that buys you: Constructed in 1946, this art deco carousel has been a Farm Show staple for years, explained Marcia Huey, a volunteer from the Pennsylvania Showmen's Association who helped run the ride Monday.

Guests can choose from 30 horses and two chariots on the ride, which is located inside the Main Hall.

The ride isn't just fun; it helps raise money for a good cause, Huey explained.

All proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Farm Show Scholarship Foundation, which has provided more than $1 million in funds to almost 400 students since its inception in 1993, according to the farm show's website.

For guests looking for something a little different, a tractor ride in another part of the Farm Show complex costs the same price, with proceeds also benefiting the Scholarship Foundation.

One chili dog

Cost: $2 

What that buys you: With the abundance of vendors filling the food court with aromas of fried vegetables, roasted meat and other delectables, picking just one isn't easy.

For the budget-savvy, one of the cheapest options is a hot dog from PennAg Industries. At $1, few edibles at the Farm Show cost less. Load it up with cheese, chili or sauerkraut for $1 more.

Proceeds benefit PennAg Industries, which supports agricultural businesses across the state, according to the Farm Show's website.

One milkshake

Cost: $4

What that buys you: While not the cheapest item in the food court, the milkshakes might be one of the most popular.

For many guests, like Carlisle resident Heather Barrett, these vanilla or chocolate treats aren't an afterthought -- they're one of the biggest reasons to come to the show.

"They're just so good," she said with a laugh as she sipped a vanilla-chocolate shake.

These Farm Show staples are made by and benefit the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association, which relies on the show to fund scholarships and educational programs across the state, according to the Pennsylvania Farm Show's website.


Cost: Free

What they are: The Farm Show is full of activities that don't cost anything. Learn how beekeepers extract honey from their hives during a half-hour presentation by the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association, or try a free sample after a cooking demonstration by a local celebrity chef. One demonstration shows onlookers how to make a scarf out of fur brushed from a fluffy Angora rabbit. Grab a free map and schedule from any of the information booths throughout the complex for more information.

Browsing the animals

2014 farm show horses 400

Photo by Clare Becker - The Evening Sun

Scott Enslin, left, and Haylie Wright, of Spring Run, lead draft horses Bob, left, and Burt out of the stall area after they were hosed down Jan. 12.

Cost: Free

What they are: With any extra time, guests can peruse the many horse, geese, rabbits, sheep and many other animals that fill the complex. Watch chicks emerge from their shells, ducklings play on a slide or farmers grooming their animals in preparation for showing. With more than 6,000 animals in attendance, any animal-lover is bound to find a way to stay busy.

This story comes from the York Daily Record as part of a partnership with WITF.

Published in Harrisburg, News

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