Small businesses are booming at state Farm Show

KATELYN HIBBARD/Sun-Gazette Theresa Stout, of Bethel, nonchalantly sits atop her Dam Pacific Brownie “Nel-Tam Happy Bear.” The steer won first in his class and was the overall champion of the all-age senior steer competition at the 101st state Farm Show.

HARRISBURG — The 101st state Farm Show often brings wondrous memories of locally sourced foods, home crafts and a variety of animals large and small to the many who have experienced the event.

But folks don’t typically leave the Farm Show with memories alone.

Thanks to the hundreds of businesses that set up shop for the week-long, hay-covered extravaganza, event-goers from all over can go take home anything from award-winning Pennsylvania wines to hand-carved wooden utensils and then some.

Liam’s Luck Wood Craft, of Bloomsburg, is manned by Liam McCay, a student at Pennsylvania College of Technology. When he returned to Williamsport for classes Monday afternoon, his father, Mike, stayed behind to keep on carving.

Liam started the business when he was a teenager to raise money for a People-to-People trip to Europe, Mike McCay said.

“He decided he really enjoys making kitchenware,” he said. “He now wants to do it as a business and it’s how he pays his tuition.”

The Wood Craft is a family affair, Mike McCay said, and they also receive help from friends. Liam, Mike and Mike’s wife carve while family friends help with things such as sanding products and selling them.

The family uses Pennsylvania hardwoods as well as scraps from sawmills. They also reclaim woods that come from furniture or other wood products that are broken or unwanted.

“Part of the joy of the business is that we get to engage with people of all ages while doing work that’s as old as time,” Mike said.

A few rows down from the wood carvers’ set-up are a series of vineyard booths. Among them is Fero Vineyard, based in Lewisburg.

Fero’s Sweet Red wine won Best of Show in the sweet/dessert wines category.

Nick Kifolo, the vineyard’s marketing manager, said Fero has competed at the Farm Show for the past four years. This year marks his second.

Kifolo enjoys the atmosphere as well as the varieties of vendors, foods and animals all under one roof.

“We get some recognition and awards, and we get a different market,” Kifolo said.

Businesses aren’t the only groups getting some extra foot traffic.

Students from Penn College’s culinary program attended the Farm Show from Thursday through Monday to aid with different cooking demonstrations as well as putting on their own.

In total, 11 students performed 19 demonstrations and made over 5,700 samples for show-goers under the direction of Chef Mike Ditchfield.

“I like getting my students around all these celebrity chefs and new connections and experiences,” Ditchfield said, adding the group was able to work with Gov. Tom Wolf and his chef.

“We have a really good team we put together here. I certainly couldn’t do all of this by myself,” he added.

Arielle White, one of the students in the program, said this is her first time at the Farm Show in any capacity.

“It’s a pretty neat experience,” she said.

The 101st state Farm Show will run from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. today through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

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