Wednesday, January 14, 2009

PA Farm Show

Agriculture is the #1 industry in Pennsylvania. And the largest indoor Ag event in the U.S. —the Pennsylvania Farm Show—has been housed at the PA Farm Show Complex for the last 90 years.

Some main attractions include a life-size butter sculpture and farm equipment displays; competitive events such as livestock judging, cow milking, equine showcase, carriage racing, and sheep-to-shawl; and food contests like Blue Ribbon Apple Pie and Greatest Cocoa Cake.

There are also rows and rows of farm animals. Alpacas are my mom's favorite (photo #2). To get a sense of the size of the Alpaca named Samson, my mom measures 13.2 hands at the shoulder.

The food court offers local goodies like fresh squeezed milkshakes, funnel cakes, mushrooms, and maple syrup desserts. Not a good place for dieters, only 5 of which reside in Pennsylvania.

This year, and the sole reason I went to the show (besides the chickens), was a display of a 1/12 scale model of one of the most recognized barns in North America--the Star Barn, c.1872. The star motif represents hope and good fortune for the farm and land.

The model builder, Terry Spahr, spent 11 months constructing the exact replica which includes 15,000 roof shingles, real stone, and miniature metal hinges; and the hog & chicken barns and corn crib outbuildings.

As luck would have it I was able to talk with Terry, who explained that most of the wood he uses is douglas fir and balsa, and that 2-part cyanoacrylate glue holds the pieces together. He uses 10" and 6" table saws with Piranha saw blades, a band saw, and dremel tool in his shop (among other tools) and builds by the addage "If it's something worth doing, it's worth overdoing it."

I can believe it, having seen his work in person.

Fully replicated interiors include staircases, stalls, feed bins and if you look closely in the last photo, you will see that the support beams are chamfered.
Even if chickens with puffy tresses and bunnies the size of tractors (there's always lots of big hare at PA farm events) aren't your thing, the Star Barn replica makes it well worth the smell of admission.


Anonymous said...

As a 17 hands at the shoulder, ex-Western New Yorker, and as wonderful as the Star Barn model is, it would have been the apple pie for me!

Dan said...


That barn is awesome! Do you know why he built it? Just for the show? Just for fun? It looks like it belongs in a museum! Very cool!

But wait - you forgot to say what tools the butter sculptors used! Hand tools I hope!

Kari Hultman said...

Woodshepherd, according to my sources, that would put you in the draft horse category.

Dan, Terry was commissioned by the man who bought the actual star barn.
I'd like to see a butter sculpture created with a chainsaw. I 'spose that'd make it a buttermilk sculpture.

Corey said...

Sorry, Kari, I can't help but think of Heywood banks:

it's a catchy tune.


Kari Hultman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kari Hultman said...

Corey, I use "I Can't Believe It's Not Country Fresh Jesus" on my toast every morning!

Woodfired! said...

Love that model stuff! Thanks for sharing Kari. And love the chooks too.

And special thanks to Corey for introducing me to BBJ.

Woodbloke said...

Kari - fabulous model. Seems like a great show...and I do love maple-surple on my ice cream!! - Rob

Anonymous said...

the shot of your mom with Samson reminded me of Napoleon Dynamite.
Gotta love those butter sculptures!

Kari Hultman said...

Vote for Pedro!

Vic Hubbard said...

That is amazing! 13.2 hands at the shoulders? Wow! LOL Seriously, Big Butter Jesus is a great song!..That's an amazing "model"! Oleo Lord!

Unknown said...

Boy does that bring back memories. Growing up in the Midwest the agri. part of the state fair was always a main attraction. For a kid nothings more fun than a big green combine and a butter cow. Really enjoy your blog. Oh by the way if you like Jim Leamy planes you'll enjoy this guys work:

Keep up the good work

Kari Hultman said...

jimk, thanks for the links to Paul Hamler's site. I am familiar with his work and got to talk with him at a Brown Tool Auction a year ago. He had his briefcase of tiny tools with him, including a gold coffin smoother that measured 1/2" long and actually cut wood!

Shazza said...

Tell your Mom that M and I want to move some where we can raise Alpaca's and knit little sweaters from their wool!

anteakhuntr said...

Have they done anything to refurbish the actual "Star Barn"? As I recall, it's out back of Middletown, right along the PA Turnpike. And the last time I was by there, it looked in pretty sad shape. I hope they have plans to keep it.

Kari Hultman said...

anteakhuntr, someone bought the star barn and is moving it to another location--an historic setting--where it will be available to tour along with other buildings. I think it's moving to Lebanon. It will be strange to no longer see it on the way to the airport.