HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural show in America, attracting an estimated half million visitors annually from all across Pennsylvania and neighboring states.
Competing in the equine competition were two Percheron mares owned by Gerald and Melissa Allebach, who operate Windermere Farms, 3971 Brush Valley Road in Gregg Township. There, they breed, raise and train world-class Percheron draft horses.
The Allebachs’ horses have won several world championships, and seven years ago Windermere Farms produced three world champions in a row — a feat never before accomplished by any other farm.
The Allebachs’ mares took the two top spots in competition at this year’s farm show. Windermere's Fire, a 2-year-old mare, won the honor of Grand Champion Mare, and Windermere's Expression took the Reserve Grand Champion Mare title.
The Allebachs limited their involvement in the farm show this year. Their son Abraham is a wrestler on the Penns Valley varsity wrestling team and had a tournament Jan. 6. They took their mares through competition Jan. 5, then rushed home to watch Abraham wrestle.
“Our farming and breeding program is a family operation and we need to maintain balance,” said Gerald Allebach. He and his family has been showing at the farm show since 1976, beginning with his father, Abraham Allebach, who was inducted into the Pennsylvania Farm Show Draft Horse Hall of Fame during the 100th show in 2016.
In a previous interview, Gerald Allebach said that producing championship horses is a combination of good breeding, training and handling.
“If you breed the best horse, the rest is easy,” he said. “We breed for attitude and trainability.”
He noted his horses are bred only after they have proven themselves to be top-quality show horses.