You can smell it before you see it.
That’s not a good thing.
The venerable PA Farm Show is being held this week in our fair capital city. It’s a time for rodeos, and steer competitions (I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, here, so bear with me. Not that there are any bears. Just steer. No, not steer, as in “drive.” Steer, like the animals. Just steer. Yes, I’m confused, too), and dairy princesses, and equestrian shows. Children and their families come from all over to see chickens hatching, and ooh and ahh over stinky cow behinds, and climb on tractors as big as our house (Not really kidding. Yes, our house isn’t huge, but I’m telling you, these machines are BIG). I know I’ve been a parent for too long when I see a tractor and wonder how Lightning McQueen and Mater actually were able to tip one over.
(Have you seen Cars? No? Well, sit down right here. I can tell you alllll about it.)
The Farm Show (yes, capital letters, because it’s THAT BIG) is this celebration of, showcase for, and convention of the state’s agricultural community (again, if I sound like I have a clue, nope). Suburban families can take the opportunity to introduce their children to the concept of farm-to-table. They can pet horses, and see cows getting baths, and come nose-to-nose with what most likely will be someone’s dinner tonight. All in all, the Farm Show can be a richly rewarding experience.
We just go for the milkshakes.
I’m not really kidding. The food court at this thing has the best milkshakes this side of the Monongahela, and the best deep-fried mozzarella, and potato doughnuts, and deep-fried veggies, and… We got there 45 minutes after opening Saturday, and it was already so crowded we had to park at the city’s community college and get a shuttle in to the complex. We ran straight to the milkshakes, then made a cursory tour of the animals, felt extremely chagrined that we were tip-toeing around cow pies on the floor while farmers all around us were mucking stalls, scrubbing animals, sheering sheep. These are the people in our country who make sure there is food on our table every day, and yes, we were worried about getting icky stuff on our shoes. Humility is walking past steaming wheelbarrows of cow slop on your way eat some honey waffles.
Then it was noon, and the entire population of Pennsylvania descended upon the farm show complex: city folk wearing black, farmers with buckles on their belts as big as the grill on my car, families in skinny jeans and Eddie Bauer vests. The entire floor of the place turned into a massive sea of denim and plaid and strollers. David and I looked at each other, grabbed the kids a little tighter, and headed out the nearest door, breaking out from the smell of manure and dirty hay into the bright sunshine. I heard a mom look down in horror at her daughter in her stroller: “Oh, Amy, there’s poop on your shoe!”
Ah, the Farm Show. Stinks like hell, but man: those milkshakes are good.