The Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg is the largest agricultural exposition in the United States. The 98th annual show is being held today through Saturday, January 11, with over 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.
Rachel Enos, a 16-year-old Eisenhower High School sophomore, and her family will take her Yorkshire-Hampshire cross-breed pig to compete and perhaps sell this year.
She said to be eligible to compete, you must be in 4H or the Future Farmers of America (FFA). FFA is not available in Warren County, but Rachel is in the Warren County Ham Handlers 4H club.
Other club members will travel to Harrisburg, but they won't be entering animals. Shawn, Dylan, Josh and Lea Seekins are going, as well as Kaitlin Knepp and twins Tyler and Cheyenne Lauffenburger.
They all plan on watching the swine competition, and taking in what ever else they can before returning to Warren County on Tuesday.
Rachel's mother Michelle said that this is her fourth year competing at the farm show, and they have learned some lessons.
For instance, registration of pigs is on Sunday, January 5 from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. "The first year, we really had no clue. We were there at 2 a.m., only to wait three hours. Now we go to sleep early and show up at 4:30 to 5 a.m.," she said.
Since both Enos and her husband work and the kids are in school, they will return to Warren on Tuesday after the swine sale.
Enos said that for cross-bred pigs, only the top seven pigs in each weight class will go to the sale. Rachel's pig is in the 230- to 280-pound class, and as of the first of January, it only weighed 227. She thought that they could get the animal up to weight before registration, even after allowing for the weight loss that normally occurs during transportation.
Putting weight on a pig involves adding extra protein to its diet, exercise and plenty of water, according to Enos.
When asked about selling an animal for butchering, she acknowledged that it is difficult for some, but the kids learn about the economy of raising animals for food. "There is a lot of expense, from feeding to having them vet-checked," she said.
There is also the part of not knowing if the check from the sale will cover expenses, something every farmer or rancher worries about.
In addition to showing her animal, as a Warren County Dairy Maid Rachel will represent the Warren County Dairy Princess and local dairy farmers, reminding everyone to have three servings of dairy products daily.
Michelle said that the annual butter sculpture is Rachel's favorite part of the show.