This week is the 94th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, "the largest indoor agricultural event in the country," or so they claim. I am devastated that due to work schedules I probably won't be able to attend. But that shouldn't stop you from trying to go--or at the very least, like me, watching it all week long on the PCN Channel. Over the years, I've gone many times, and every time, I see and learn something new.
Sure, there are the things some people laugh at--the sheep-to-shawl contest, the butter sculpture contest, and the tractor square dancing. But every time I go there, I end up crying out of pure pleasure because it is so damn heartwarming to see so many people (over 400,000 attend every year) taking so much joy in country living. This is a world that exists completely outside the realm of my everyday, sophisticated, New York-publishing grind. Yet it feels so much more real. Whether it's watching the 6-year-olds auction off their 4H pigs and cows, watching the high-school rodeo kids doing stuff I can only dream of doing (calf roping and barrel racing), or watching the elderly folks square dance all night long in fabulous, flouncy matching outfits, it's a world that feels both lost and found again.
Sometimes, I do get depressed at the Farm Show because I can see that organic has barely scratched the surface of this traditional world. And all the chemical-company sponsorships and GMO-seed-logo hats that the old farm guys wear remind me that we have a long, hard battle to fight to heal the planet.
But then, I think of all the good things--the maple syrup cotton candy and the duckling slide--and forget my troubles. And this year you can watch the ducklings on a webcam! At the end of the day, all of us love baby animals!
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.