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Ag Progress Days Offers Exhibitions, Activities for All

by on August 14, 2017 10:52 AM

Drivers Advised of Heavy Traffic During Ag Progress Days

As many as 45,000 people will visit Rock Springs this week for Penn State's annual Ag Progress Days, the largest outdoor agricultural exhibition in the state and one of the largest in the United States.

Ag Progress Days will be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on Wednesday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Thursday at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs along Route 45.

About 60 percent of the visitors to Ag Progress Days are involved in agricultural production in some way, and the event features special presentations, demonstrations and a trade show that offers those in the ag industry one-stop shopping for tools and to learn about services and technology for virtually any category.

But among the 500 exhibitors from around the country, spread across 150 acres of farmland, there is much to enjoy for people of all ages and backgrounds, including activities, tours, demonstrations and food.

Jesse Darlington, Jr., facilities manager in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, is interim manager of the expo this year, stepping in for Bob Oberheim, who retired after 25 years following last year's Ag Progress Days.

"Agriculture impacts all of us every day, from the food we eat to the fuel and fiber we use," Darlington said in a release. "We want to invite people to be more active participants in these processes, and come out and learn about agriculture in Pennsylvania and the research being done at Penn State. It's informative, but also fun, and a great way to involve children in learning more about things like health and safety, animals and science."

At the College of Agricultural Sciences building, water quality will be the focus, with exhibits and presentations Penn State Extension educators and faculty discussing a variety of issues. Members of the Pennsylvania 4-H state council also will present at 1 p.m. each day a hands-on experience for children and families to learn about reducing flooding and pollution.

All residents can learn about the ways they can help protect water quality.

"We'll be highlighting those steps in the College Exhibits Building during Ag Progress Days, with experts on hand to talk about what farmers, homeowners, forest landowners, private well owners and city dwellers can do to ensure clean water in Pennsylvania," said Matt Royer, director of Penn State's Agriculture and Environment Center.

There are plenty of youth activities scheduled. At the 4-H Youth Building, kids can learn about 4-H's many programs in science, technology, engineering and leadership, with rabbits, robotics and plant activities and demonstrations.

Elsewhere on the grounds, the Kids Climb lets youth try safety equipment and climb trees. Shaver's Creek Environmental Center will have presentations with live turtles, snakes, amphibians and birds of prey. A corn maze provides a fun way to learn about agriculture. And kids can race the serpentine track at the Pedal Go Kart Derby.

The Equine Experience offers something for horse owners and those who just love horses, including demonstrations by Spring Mount Percherons of Tyrone and miniature horse performances  by the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association Youth Ambassadors.

"Salute to America" Evening Extravaganza will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday featuring Percherons and miniature horses along with the Keystone Dressage and Combined Training Drill Team

"We receive a great response on the variety of activities and horses we offer at the Equine Experience," said Brian Egan, instructor in equine science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "From miniature horses all the way to draft horses, the event covers the gamut of the equine animal. The horse arena is always a popular destination at Ag Progress Days, and we're looking forward to another successful event."

In the Lawn and Garden Area, visitors can learn about "fertigation," which combines fertilization and irrigation. Gardeners can learnabout growing herbs, flower arranging, square foot gardening hydroponics and much more, and have their questions answered by Penn State Master Gardeners. 

Pollinator-friendly gardens and landscaping remain a focus of the area, with a pollinator garden on site for visitors to see native plants that attract threatened pollinators. Experts will also display a demonstration beehive and operate a small bee yard.

"The demonstration plots serve as living proof that the average gardener can do something to attract and help pollinators," Molly Sturniolo, Centre County Master Gardener and Lawn and Garden Area coordinator, said. "Planting these flowers and other host plants is well within the ability of the average Pennsylvania gardener."

In the Crops, Soils and Conservation Building, specialists will answer questions about crop production, weeds and biofuels and provide information about crop and nutrient management, organic farming and sustainable agriculture. Farm Safety Demonstration Area will offer demonstrations and prevention measures for issues such as reducing  the risk of childhood injuries due to falls from hay holes and run-over incidents involving skid steers. The Rural Health and Safety Tent will offer a variety of health screenings.

The Pasto Agricultural Museum will be open for visitors to experience hands-on exhibits and see more than 1,300 items dating from 4,000 B.C. to the 1940s. Special demonstrations will include "Axe Whisperer" Jim Walizer and a comparison of old-time and modern farmers, among others.

Free daily tours around the surrounding, 2,400-acre Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center will be conducted on topics ranging from American chestnut tree planting to feedlots and grazing for animals to high tunnel fruit and vegetable production and more.

For full schedules and maps, visit

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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Drivers Advised of Heavy Traffic During Ag Progress Days
August 14, 2017 10:19 AM
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