Sometimes, with all the engineering and technology and arts buildings on campus, it can be easy to forget that Penn State was originally Farmers High School.
But not this week.
Every August, Penn State has a three-day celebration of its roots with Ag Progress Days. Those events kick off Tuesday.
It is a multifunctional festivity — one part county fair, one part trade show, one part educational symposium — all taking place on the 2,400-acre grounds of the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center.
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The event draws up to 45,000 visitors to Centre County each year, most of them connected to farming in some way.
“We strive to make the event an enjoyable learning experience for everyone who comes, regardless of their interests and backgrounds,” said Ag Progress Days manager Bob Oberheim. “Although the majority of attendees have some connection to production agriculture, we offer activities for virtually everyone, including gardeners, food enthusiasts, conservationists, woodlot owners, educators, children and anyone interested in the agricultural and natural resource sciences.”
If you are a farmer, you’re going to want to check out the latest technology and trends for your business, and Ag Progress Days has you covered there, with exhibitors displaying the newest and best products from seeds and machinery to livestock housing and genetics. Need help with finances or insurance? Yeah, they’ve got people on hand to do that, too.
Maybe you want to learn more about the mini-agricultural operations you have brewing in your own garden. Well, you’re going to want to visit the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibit Building. That’s where you can learn about the extension programs and issues that matter specifically to Pennsylvanians, like managing your own backyard poultry flock, taking care of your forestland or the relationship between water quality and the Chesapeake Bay.
Horses might be your thing, and if that’s the case, there’s a full slate of training and demos for horse owners, as well as exhibitions, including jousting, for horse enthusiasts.
There are activities for families, with an emphasis on learning about agriculture’s relationship to being healthy. There are activities for kids, like displays about bugs and a go-kart derby. You can learn to grow herbs, potatoes and a butterfly garden with the help of a Penn State Master Gardener.
And if you want to meet a real, live beauty queen with a message about healthy kids and a background in farming, Miss America (and Georgia farm girl) Betty Cantrell will be at the fair Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Building.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Admission and parking are free.