Flavors found at Farm Show

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Farm Show’s 24 indoor acres provide a place for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural hands to meet and show their skills and wares during a time when the land isn’t claiming their attention.

Those who don’t make a living directly from the soil should be honest, just a week after New Year’s resolutions are made, and admit, “Yes, I go for the food.”

Walk along any given row of vendors in the Main Hall – and there are many, mostly those who have been granted the PA Preferred designation for locally made products – and samples are thrust into your path.

Matt and Brooke Schenuk, of Wild Mountain Gourmet in Montoursville, had samples of their hot sauces, marinades and mustards out for the crowd. Staffing a table is a challenge since both have a full-time job, Brooke said.

“We’ve only got one other person helping us,” she said. “It’s just one of those things you’ve got to do – the right person comes by and it could give you the opportunity you need.”

With three new wholesalers on board and distribution as far as Wisconsin and Florida, the Schenuks are looking to expand out of their home-based operation.

Sean Bruce, 13, worked the crowd Saturday – it was packed with more than 11,000 cars parking that day – with his prematurely silver tongue and a paper bag full of crackers and Lancaster Hummus products, including flavors of apricot ginger and jalapeno lime.

“We’re a family business, a local business; all our product’s made with Pennsylvania-grown non-GMO European hybrid canola oil from a co-op of 50 farmers,” he rattled off in the time it takes most people to take one bite of a Kuntzler hot dog or a chocolate-covered almond, just two of the samples available.

A partial list of other products, from one half-hour amble – Kelchner’s horseradish mustard and sriracha sauce, 16 cappuccino flavors from Ron & Frank’s Drink Mixes, Laurel Vista Farms’ dill-flavored green beans, Seltzer’s beef bologna and Mrs. Gibble’s candies.

Careful with the Rapture and Zombie Apocalypse hot sauces from Torchbearer Sauces, of Mechanicsburg. They burn, but it takes a minute to hit – they burn far more if you eat a few crackersful at once.

“That’s the sort of stuff you put a half-teaspoon in a pot of chili,” said Steve Kepner, of Hughesville. “Everything’s cooked down and concentrated – all my peppers are whatever it is it is.”

Kepner’s North Mountain Pepper Works made its first appearance at the Farm Show this year and nearly a score of his jellies and sauces were on his table for sampling.

All of that food doesn’t include the half-dozen or so wineries giving out samples every day, the fine cuisine available in bite-size form from demonstrations at the Culinary Connection stage, bee pollen, handed out by local honey queens, for scattering on salads, or maple-flavored cotton candy.

For those whose appetite is only whetted by a sampling walk, new food items at the Farm Show this year include cherry pie, pumpkin funnel cakes with cream cheese frosting, bacon-on-a-stick and – these earn a personal recommendation – barbequed veal sliders.

The milkshakes still are said to be worth the wait, and even those serving the food said the lamb stew and trout sandwiches are up to historical par.