Chesco Ag Production, Talent on Display at PA Farm Show

Anthony D’Amico (right), President To-Jo Mushrooms

By Duncan Allison

It is difficult even to begin to describe the huge range of stands, cooking demonstrations, arenas constantly in use for auctions, cattle judging, displays and just plain fun events that have been occurring all this week at the 100th PA Farm Show.

Certainly there are plenty of farm families attending but the vast majority are non-farm families and individuals spending a day or a few hours being entertained, informed and very well fed. Remember that when the Farm Show started 100 years ago 41 percent of the population was involved in farming – today it is less than 2 percent of us grow crops or raise animals.

best center piece 100 yearsThe Farm Show is not just for entertainment but it provides the chance for farmers to compete on a statewide basis with their crops and livestock. So there are countless classes from beef and dairy cattle to corn and hay to baked goods and flower arrangements.

Chester County farms were well represented amongst the award winners.

It was no surprise that our local mushroom producers, who supply around 50% of all the mushrooms consumed in the country, were major winners in the many mushroom classes.

ToJo Mushrooms, Avondale were placed first in 6 classes and were judged in the top four places in a further 12 classes.

Two other Chester County producers gained a first, Phillips Mushrooms and Buona Foods. Country Fresh Mushrooms, C.P. Yeatman, KSS Sales, Menu Mate Mushroom Farm, and Needhams Mushroom Farm had exhibits which were ranked in the top four places.

Matthew Hettlinger and Samuel Kennedy (right) of The Farm at Doe Run show off their ribbons for cheese production.
Matthew Hettlinger and Samuel Kennedy (right) of The Farm at Doe Run show off their ribbons for cheese production.

Chester County cheese makers have been winning awards at state and national competitions and six were successful again this year for their cow, goat and sheep milk cheeses.

The Farm at Doe Run, in Coatesville won 1st and 2nd place in Best of Show and six other awards. Susan Miller at Birchrun Hills Farm, Chester Springs gained first place in three classes of cheese including blue veined. Yellow Springs Farm LLC was successful with top place for their surface-ripened goat’s milk cheese. Landenberg’s Meadowset Farm gained first place for their sheep cheese.

Finally the flavored Cheddar, Colby and Monterey cheeses produced by September Farm, Honey Brook took 1, 2, 4 and 5 place in their class. Our Chester County cheese makers are indeed focused on producing a variety of high quality cheese.

The website to explore 8 of our local cheesemakers is

There is widespread concern about youth being disinterested in farming but our Penn State 4-H youth programs are very active and their members did well at the Show. Rachel Stolzfus, Coatesville won several first place and top awards for her Angus beef cattle and Kaitlin Bell, Nottingham was also a top contender in the beef cattle category.

Ten Chester County youth from across the county were listed for their market swine in the Junior Market Animals section. Bryce and Aiden Murray from Spring City were also successful with their poultry in the Youth Poultry Showmanship and Poster Contest. James Nace, Glen Moore was judged first in the Junior Breeding Beef Cattle category program. Finally Jason Mazepink from Parkesburg was Junior Market Animals Other Wool Purebred Market Lamb Reserve Champion.

Black%20swalnut%20Winery[2]Under the 4-H Program, youth purchase young livestock and raise them for a given period of time and then the animals are auctioned at farm or special 4-H shows. The youth feed and look after the animals and hopefully get reimbursed for the initial cost and upkeep.

400 hogs, 300 lambs/goats and 60 steers were auctioned on Tuesday. I met a little girl who was in tears because she was losing the Angus steer she had been diligently feeding and looking after all year. Her mother was in tears too but she explained that this is real life and a valuable lesson for her kids.The animals must be slaughtered to provide the beef, pork and lamb that we consume.

The Show is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about our very diverse agriculture and the many services required for this high tech industry. The day could easily be spent attending cooking demonstrations and visiting the hundreds of stands supplying services and a wide range of products. It is surely valuable even important for us to learn about the source of our food.

horse%20pulling%202[1]For entertainment and interest the arenas are always busy – I watched the Championship Horse Pulling Contest where two horses pulled loads – over 6,000 lbs. for Lightweight horses and 13,000 lbs. for Heavyweight – amazing!

The Food Court is huge – I didn’t sample either of the two Show favorites – chocolate bacon ($2 for a chocolate coated rasher of bacon) or the very popular beef/mushroom burger (good health claims). I didn’t even sample one of our local wineries – Black Walnut Winery – that had a booth.

Overwhelming – yes but exhilarating to be one of thousands of people very actively enjoying the Show and learning at the same time.


Duncan AllisonDuncan Allison gained degrees in horticulture and extension education in the UK and US and spent most of his career working for the DuPont Company developing and marketing crop protection chemicals. Recently he has written reports for a global ag publisher and for New Jersey-based international business consultants Kline & Co. For the last 16 years he has been heavily involved in the local farming of Chester County where he has lived with his wife and family since 1980.

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