Ag Progress Days offers ‘something for everyone’

UNIVERSITY PARK–Everything agriculture and more can be found at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, which kicks off on Aug. 14 and continues through Aug. 16 at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs in Ferguson Township, Centre County.

The event, one of the largest agricultural expos in the east, features 500 commercial and educational exhibits, crop displays, machinery demonstrations, guided research tours, family and youth activities, horse exhibitions, workshops and the Pasto Agricultural Museum.

There also are many food vendors–primarily local community groups and state commodity organizations–offering hot sandwiches, lemonade, ice cream and other Pennsylvania fare.

The event typically attracts as many as 45,000 visitors from across Pennsylvania and beyond–an estimated 60 percent of whom are directly or indirectly involved in agricultural production–to get a glimpse into the science and business of agriculture.

Jesse Darlington, Ag Progress Days manager, believes everyone can benefit from attending the show, even if they are not directly connected to agriculture or related industries.

“Ag Progress Days has something for everyone, from educational activities for adults, children and families to commercial vendors, machinery demonstrations and crop exhibits to provide agricultural producers with valuable knowledge to improve their operations,” Darlington said.

To make the most of Ag Progress Days, it is helpful to know some of the major demonstrations and activities that are available:

The trade show

Ag Progress Days offers farm operators “one-stop shopping” to compare goods and services, see the latest machinery in action, and find out about new methods and technologies that can help them maximize productivity.

Commercial exhibitors will display virtually every product category, including field machinery, milking systems, animal genetics, storage structures, seed, feed, tools, trailers, sprayers, mixers, livestock housing, financial products and more.

Youth activities

The 4-H Youth Building will house several interactive exhibits and activities, focusing on expressive arts. Children can learn about 4-H programming in science, engineering, technology, citizenship, leadership and healthy living.

Outside the building, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center will feature Pennsylvania wildlife, and visitors can walk through a live butterfly tent.

The equine experience

Horse owners and enthusiasts can enjoy a full schedule of training and breed clinics, demonstrations, informational displays and lectures. Penn State Equine Science faculty and staff will be on hand to provide information on horse breeds, care, training and more.

Farm safety and health

At the Farm Safety Demonstration Area, safety specialists will promote equipment designed to reduce the risk of accidents. A focus this year will be on tractor rollover safety, with local emergency responders conducting a mock scenario.

Crops, soils, conservation

In the J.D. Harrington Crops, Soils and Conservation Building, specialists from Penn State and other organizations will answer crop production, weed identification, soil conservation and biofuel questions. Visitors can learn about crop and nutrient management, no-till practices, organic farming and sustainable agriculture–and even bring a weed for experts to identify.

The family room

At the Family Room building, families and children can play mini-games, watch food demonstrations, taste healthy food and drink and learn first aid and firearm safety tips. Hands-on exhibits and demonstrations will cover topics such as diabetes and diet, home food preservation, consumer food safety and avoiding insect bites. Visitors can watch the preparation of quick and healthy dishes, taste the resulting fare and receive copies of the featured recipes.

Yard and garden

Pollinator-friendly landscapes is a focus of the Yard and Garden Area. With pollinators in jeopardy, Penn State Master Gardeners teamed with horticulture faculty members to create and nurture the demonstration gardens.