Penn State

Not just for farmers: Ag Progress Days features family-friendly events, demos and more

Returning next week, Ag Progress Days is the state’s largest agricultural exposition, but that doesn’t mean it’s just for farmers.

Jesse Darlington, Ag Progress Days manager at Penn State, said that there’s something for everyone at Ag Progress Days, regardless of whether you have a connection to the industry. Each day, families, homeowners and simply curious locals can find demonstrations and events on cooking, gardening, home care, wildlife and livestock and more.

Families especially, said Darlington, will enjoy the Monarch butterfly exhibit.

“They can go in and see the flying butterflies and learn what Monarchs are all about and how they migrate,” he said. “We have an educational corn maze for the youth (and) a tree-climbing activity.”

Many families are among the approximately 45,000 attendees that cover the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, less than 10 miles outside of State College, over the three days. In addition to the guests, Ag Progress Days also hosts more than 500 exhibitors hailing from all over North America.

For the home gardener, Darlington said, “We have our master gardeners on site to show different ways of planting vegetables and flowers, and pollinator gardens. We’ll have a vegetable demo this year that will be pretty exciting.”

Some of the major topics covered in demonstrations this year, sticking with the latest agricultural trends? Hemp, says Darlington, is a big topic right now, including its uses and the different Pennsylvania hemp markets, as is drone usage in agriculture. Other new demonstrations and presentations for this year include those on hops research, victory gardens, chopping (with live sorghum chopping on-site), hay making and grain bin safety.

With so much to do and see at Ag Progress Days, Darlington points out the one must-see if you plan to attend.

“I would say, if you’re going to do one thing at Ag Progress Days, you really want to walk into our College Exhibits Building. You’ll see a little bit of what we’re focusing on this year with invasive species and diseases ...” The College Exhibits Building hosts Penn State Extension teams in eight different fields, showcasing new research and resources, with focuses on invasive species impacts, invasive plant diseases, foreign animal disease and vector-borne disease. The Department of Agriculture and Biological Engineering will also have demonstrations on advancing agricultural sensing and automation, and 4-H robotics.

“Come and visit the 500-plus exhibitors and see what the newest and latest technology in agriculture is, and look at a little bit of the past with our Pasto Agricultural Museum and antique tractor display,” Darlington said.

Ag Progress Days is free to attend, with additional free parking. The event is handicap accessible. The show is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Tuesday; 9 a.m.–8 p.m. on Wednesday; and 9 a.m.–4 p.m. on Thursday.