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Farm Show Rooted in History

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  • January 17, 2019
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Pennsylvania Farm Show Exhibits

A State Fair You Shouldn’t Miss

What are Pennsylvania’s key crops?

PA AG FACT: Kennett Square, a Chester County borough (United States), is known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World.”

More than one million mushrooms a day are harvested in Kennett Square and that number is half of the United States’ mushroom crop. Yes, the delightful, flavorful fungi you add to your omelets, soups, and favorite dishes could have its origins in Pennsylvania. That’s one of the PA AG FACTS I learned during the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, Harrisburg, Jan. 5 to 12.

I covered two days of the event on behalf of Visit Hershey & Harrisburg and I returned home knowing so much more about my home state’s agricultural history. The story is fascinating and the farm show has been a vehicle for the Department of Agriculture to showcase Pennsylvania’s abundant agricultural accomplishments through exhibits and demonstrations.

I hope you enjoy the “PA AG FACTS” and videos I’ve shared in this article.

PA AG FACT: Pennsylvania’s prime vegetable crops are sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, and beans.

Did you miss the 2019 show?

Take a moment to watch highlights and don’t forget to subscribe to my new YouTube Travel Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2oX3N1C_58
If you couldn’t attend the 2019 PA Farm Show, watch this video to see highlights.

PA AG FACT: Other important crops are wheat, tobacco, and oats.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture is appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania and oversees the department of agriculture. The department has hosted the farm show for 103 years and during my video interview with Secretary Russell Redding in the farmers’ market area of the farm show, he described how agriculture shows up in our lives. Take a moment to watch this brief clip with photo highlights from the show.

Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui and Kento Matsui

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4iW956uph8
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding describes why the Pennsylvania Farm Show is a must-see.
Video by Joan Mead-Matsui/Travel With Me Productions

PA AG FACT: Apples, grapes, peaches, and strawberries are important fruit crops grown in Pennsylvania.

The state’s many agricultural achievements are showcased at the farm show during seven days of exhibits and events featuring livestock, products, and food, and combined with a variety of vendors; demonstrations; a farmers’ market and information booths. It’s both educational, entertaining, and all-encompassing for your entire family.

TIP: Wear comfortable shoes and plan to spend a full day exploring the farm show. Bring your entire family and a stroller for younger children. The arena consists of more than one million square feet, with 11 halls, three arenas, and parking for 9,000 vehicles.

103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show
This horse and his owner graciously greeted children at the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Do you love an old-fashioned state fair?

What makes the farm show a sensational state-wide event?

FOOD – I can’t say enough about the selection of food at the show. Attendees could satisfy their tastebuds with AG products ranging from OUTSTANDING mushroom BURGERS to the FAMOUS MILKSHAKE. Did you sample The Cyclone, a cone made with PA Preferred® brioche bread (using organic flour) and filled with a choice of organic chicken, or pasture-raised pork smoked on-site, topped with chow-chow, a North American pickled relish. Expect to satisfy your hunger and reap your share of vegetables from the condiment. Read more about other culinary adventures online at PENN LIVE.

Furry Friends on the bunny trail – Angorapalooza and a Celebrity Rabbit Hop featured seven new bunny varieties at the 2019 Perennial Farm Show favorite Rabbit Competition. I guarantee your entire family will adore all the animals from the chickens to goats.

PA Farm Show
Was this bunny the “unofficial” emcee of the rabbit competition? Your guess is as good as mine but nonetheless, he/she was a hit with children and adults. Photo by Kento Matsui.

Beverage Tasting – Did you have a chance to sample the fruity hard cider at Pennsylvania’s Cider Guild’s booth? The Cider Sippin’ Story made a return to the show with a Cider Competition.

Beer, Beer, who’s got craft beer?

Craft Beer Lovers’ Delight: The first-ever state-wide Craft Beer Competition brought craft brewers from Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties and beyond with more than 150 varieties ranging from Hefeweizens to Schwarzbiers. Awards were given to the Best in Class, Best of Show and the PA Preferred® Legacy Award.

World champion robotics and STEM agricultural demonstrations are examples of mobile classrooms The Lancaster Farming Stage organizers presented to show how Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) applied in agriculture improves our lives with better food; healthier animals, plants and soil, and even climate challenges.

Ware’s the AG?

At the show’s Farmers’ Market – Were you one of the shoppers who bought wares like cheese, honey, maple products (sinfully delicious maple syrup), vegetables, apples, and potatoes at the Farmers Market?

Artisan’s Alley was a new addition to the 2019 farm show. Crafters and fine artists demonstrated their artistry and sold their hand-crafted goods. Horse-hair braiders, lace and bead makers, spinners, wheat weavers, potters, chair caners, and painters were among the craftspeople who entertained the crowds.

What Makes a Great Egg? ─ Even the white and brown eggs competed in a farm show competition.

Grow your own crops! Not sure how to get started? The information booths were manned by experts from local universities and organizations who ARE happy to extend their expertise to YOU.

Experts from The Penn State Extension offered practical advice for gardeners who had A to Z farming questions?

Hop on the organic wagon. The Organic Boom was a new feature at the 2019 show. If you were in the Expo Hall, chances are you discovered the latest news in composting, vermiculture,  and conservation.

Where are the photos you took at the show? Follow farm show coverage
@PAFarmShow and upload your images on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture encourages you to be a social media star.

PA AG FACT: How BIG is Pennsylvania farming? Learn state-wide county AG history at http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/portal/communities/agriculture/history/index.html

The farm show complex is the “place to be” throughout the year for a variety of events. Promoters and meeting and event planners utilize the complex for livestock and trade shows, corporate meetings, trade shows, and black-tie events.

Additional coverage is available on my YouTube travel channel, where you’ll find videos with in-depth comments from Sharon S. Altland, Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center executive director, Mary Klaus, farm show historian, and Gerald Reichart, farm show floor manager.

Disclaimer: I covered the event on behalf of Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my views are my own and based on my experience. Click on this link to follow happenings in Harrisburg, Hershey, and surrounding towns.

 

 

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Barnes Foundation Tribute to the Impressionists

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  • December 17, 2018
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The Barnes Foundation

CLASSIC PHILADELPHIA ART AND CULTURE

An Afternoon of French Culture

 

Philadelphia Art and Culture The Barnes Foundation
Before the lunch crowd arrived, customers stopped by for a beverage at the coffee bar. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.
The Barnes Foundation Tribute to the Impressionists is best experienced after a relaxing breakfast or lunch at Le Pain Quotidien, (translated from French to English, “the daily bread”), a Belgium bakery and restaurant that’s only steps away from the museum.

Set the stage for your visit to the Barnes with a selection of French-inspired pastries, soups, and savory lunch options. Healthy, plant-based selections headline this eatery’s menu. Gluten-free is consistently my first choice for a midday meal but vegetarian fare is also available in a tantalizing array of dishes.  The Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai was outstanding. Suffice to say, an afternoon at the Barnes and Le Pain Quotidien the ideal combination of Philadelphia art and culture. Le Pain emanates European culture with the comforting aroma of bread baking in the kitchen and casual French-country charm. It’s a perfect prelude to an afternoon at The Barnes. 

Le Pain Quotidien is located at The Granary, 1937 Callowhill St., Philadelphia, PA. Le Pain Quotidien is a franchised eatery founded by Alain Coumont. I chose Le Pain because I was in Philadelphia for a travel assignment at The Barnes Foundation and the online menu reflected my hankerings that day. 

Call ahead to be sure seating is available during peak times.1 215 789 9870

Philadelphia Art and Culture The Barnes Foundation and Le Pain Quotidien
Are you feeling “cultural” and hungry for artisan food? If you’re looking for a French-inspired meal that will set the stage for your visit to The Barnes Foundation, Le Pain Quotidien is close by and the aroma of bread baking is only the beginning of your romance with European culture in Philadelphia.

AFTERNOON WITH THE MASTERS

Why are we so fascinated with museums? 

I’ll tell you why I can’t stay away from them or better yet, I’ll show you why you should set aside time to visit The Barnes Foundation. (See my gallery below). Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted. 

Museums are my go-to place for inspiration for my own art (https://chigirie.com) and an opportunity to tune into my creative side and tune out the noise and chatter around me. Too much time had passed since my last visit to a metropolitan museum and upon reading more about The Barnes (as it’s often called), I knew I had to set aside an afternoon to experience this Philadelphia treasure. The Barnes Foundation houses a must-see collection of art by the world’s greatest master painters, sculptors, and designers. 

As I made my way around the first-floor galleries, I came across paintings by my all-time favorite Impressionist painters: Renoir and Monet. And then, gallery upon gallery, the genre expanded to Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Seurat, and Modigliani. 

I was so enthralled by the selection of paintings that I didn’t allow enough time to visit the second-floor exhibits but that’s all the reason I’ll need to plan a follow-up trip to Philadelphia. 

The Barnes, (as it’s known to many) is a non-profit Philadelphia cultural and educational institution recognized for its exceptional art collections, programming, and special exhibitions.    

Thanks to Dr. Albert C. Barnes for his vision and the foundation that honors his name for maintaining this collection of priceless treasures by impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist artists. 


Dr. Albert C. Barnes assembled a collection of African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork that are interspersed with the paintings throughout the galleries. Image courtesy of The Barnes Foundation

TIP: Allow ample time (three to four hours) to explore the galleries. 
African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork are arranged throughout the galleries in a manner that encourages time to view, study, and reflect on each object in the ensembles. 

Watch this video clip and visit https://chigirie.com for additional insights. 

Learn how to plan a solo media trip here

FROM THE BARNES FOUNDATION: 

The ensembles, each one meticulously crafted by Dr. Barnes himself, are meant to draw out visual similarities between objects we don’t normally think of together. Created as teaching tools, they were essential to the educational program Dr. Barnes developed back in the 1920s.

Directions: The Barnes Foundation is conveniently located along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. No need to worry about parking. Visitors are invited to park in the lot adjacent to the foundation. 

For additional information, call 215.278.7000. 

Disclaimer: 

My visit to The Barnes Foundation was comped but my opinions are my own. 

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Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex

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  • December 3, 2018
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Preserving Artistic and Historical Treasures

Rotunda Exterior Image PA State Capitol Complex
At the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building complex, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the 272-foot, 52 million-pound capitol dome glistens with Vermont granite. It’s topped with a green-glazed terra cotta tile roof and inspired by Michelangelo’s design for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Photo courtesy of Visit Hershey-Harrisburg
What makes the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building an architectural masterpiece?
You need to schedule a tour of Harrisburg and while you’re in town, add this National Historic Landmark to your itinerary.

Imagine you’re standing in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building around the time of its dedication on Oct. 4, 1906. Close your eyes and envision you’re looking skyward at what was considered to be the tallest structure between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The capitol building held that record for 80 years. That must have been quite a sight to behold.

Until my recent Harrisburg travel assignment, I only recall seeing this stately icon from a distance. That’s nothing to brag about considering I’m a life-long Pennsylvania resident. The day I visited couldn’t have been more beautiful as the sunbeam illuminated the dome.

As the traffic whizzed by me on one of Harrisburg’s busiest streets, I took a moment to admire the dome from the sidewalk in front of the complex before I made the climb up the exterior stairs to the entrance. I also realized I had no idea what entrance to use.

While rushing up and down two flights of exterior steps not once but twice on my way to my private tour appointment, I checked my watch and realized I was five minutes late before I entered the building. Blame it on the sprawling complex and multiple sets of doors that confused me.

Fortunately, a bystander pointed me in the right direction in the vicinity of the main entrance and a security guard mapped out my trek to the information desk in the lobby. Minutes later I met my guide who was surrounded by several large groups of visitors who were ready to embark on their tours.

Travel assignments offer many perks and Rick Dunlap, of the Visit Hershey and Harrisburg office, Harrisburg’s official tourism board, arranged my tour as part of a three-day media trip to Hershey and Harrisburg. I left Central Pennsylvania with a significantly greater understanding of why Harrisburg tours are so organized and effortless.

While Harrisburg has remained Pennsylvania’s capital since October 1812, my tour guide, Jill Fetter is a storyteller who in a comparatively short time, learned the full history and stories to keep you entertained throughout your tour. She knows the building inside and out. Jill is the Capitol Visitor Services director and The Pennsylvania Capitol Shop manager in the Main Rotunda and an expert in both the building’s history and design.

As we strolled through the first area, she began by pointing out many of the materials used throughout the complex. In case you didn’t know, Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940), designed the massive capital structure based on his vision of a “Palace of Art” and that’s exactly what you’ll find. The building and furnishings cost $13 billion.

Aside from its obvious grandeur and size, the exterior of the building is a gateway to the splendor you’ll find inside – classic American Renaissance style architecture that’s combined with artistic details that are unspeakably magnificent and illuminated by approximately 4,000 lights and 48 portholes in the dome.

Suffice to say, the building lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful capitol building in our nation. In fact, history has it that President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the capital as “the handsomest building” he ever saw when he attended the dedication of the building.

PA State Capitol Building Architecture Art
A visitor stops for a moment to gaze at the statues and ornamentation as he descended the grand staircase in the main building. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

The interior focal point is the grand staircase – an ideal vantage point for visitors to view eight large murals by Philadelphia artists, Edwin Austin Abbey, and the famous Barnard  Statues by George Grey Barnard, and 17-foot bronze doors that each weighs a ton. Keeping your eyes fixed on one element at a time might be difficult for even the most disciplined spectator as your tour guide describes each of the massive installations of stained glass, murals, and paintings crafted by the most talented artisans of that era.

Pennsylvania historical exhibits
Love art? The capitol building is as much a series of exhibits as it is a hub for lawmakers and lobbyists. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Some of the largest rooms feature a European influence with distinctive Renaissance elements – Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber, and English in the Governor’s Reception Room. Add to that mix Greek, Roman and Victorian installations of exquisite art and ornamentation displayed throughout the building.

PA Senate and House Chambers Tours
When the legislature is not in session, you’ll have a chance to gaze at the murals, gold embellishments, custom-crafted lighting fixtures, and exquisite woodwork in the chambers. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex Tours
What will you learn during a tour of the PA State Capitol Complex? This massive structure is an ideal opportunity for students of all ages to learn local, state, and national histories, law and politics, and art and architecture. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Historians, politicians, teachers, students, architects, travelers, and anyone with an appreciation for history and art and a fascination with politics and lawmaking, should visit the Pennsylvania State Capitol complex. Architectural students will want to study how Huston, the architect-of-record, incorporated motifs that embody Pennsylvania’s achievements in history, animals, industries, occupations, and modes of transportation into his design. Whether your glance is towards the dome, straight ahead, or under your feet, you’ll find examples of Huston’s affinity for art. One example is the Moravian tiles you’ll see intermingled on the lobby floor. They were designed and manufactured by Henry Chapman Mercer of Doylestown, PA as a way to illustrate and incorporate the talents and wares of local craftsman.

Henry Chapman Mercer Moravian Tiles
As many as 400 tile mosaics by Henry Chapman Mercer, a Doylestown, PA craftsman, are interspersed throughout the first floor of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building Rotunda and nearby corridors. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
William B. Van Ingen 24 Stained Glass windows
The “Militia” is one of 24 stained glass windows in the Senate and House Chambers crafted by Philadelphia native William B. Van Ingen. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

There’s so much to see and take in at the State Capitol Building. Before you go, download the PA Capitol Self-Guided Tour Mobile app to learn about the self-guided tour stops and how a bill becomes law in PA. You’ll find research additional information in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

Tours are free and offered every half hour Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or on weekends and most holidays at 9 and 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. You won’t be able to tour the capitol building on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and Christmas day but you’ll have plenty of other options before or after those holidays. I encourage you to register for a tour so won’t miss a detail along the way.

Fill your head with Pennsylvania history and architectural, artistic, and political highlights that will make this building’s incomparable beauty come alive for you. If you decide to wait to schedule your tour until you arrive in Harrisburg, be sure to check the schedule before arriving at the capitol complex.

PA State Capitol Complex Tour Guides
Allow Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex tour guides, Jill Fetter and her staff, to show you around one of Pennsylvania’s most extraordinary buildings.

For help planning your trip to Pennsylvania, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

Looking for more Harrisburg articles, check out https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com/wildwood-park-nature-abounds.

Planning content after a media trip can be daunting but you can simplify your life with the Content Creators Planner, a tool I use to organize my life.

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