All ages will enjoy variety of events planned for Ag Progress Days

August 08, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 15-17, will offer fun and educational activities for adults, children and families, while providing agricultural producers with valuable knowledge to improve their farm businesses.

Hosted on 150 acres of farmland at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs -- along state Route 45 in Ferguson Township, Centre County -- Ag Progress Days is among the largest agricultural expositions in the East. The event features 500 commercial and educational exhibits, crop displays, machinery demonstrations, guided research tours, family and youth activities, horse exhibitions, workshops and the Pasto Agricultural Museum.

The expo typically attracts as many as 45,000 visitors from across Pennsylvania and beyond -- an estimated 60 percent of whom are directly or indirectly involved in agricultural production -- to get a glimpse into the science and business of agriculture.

Jesse Darlington, interim Ag Progress Days manager, encourages people to attend, whether or not they are directly connected to agriculture or related industries.

"Agriculture impacts all of us every day, from the food we eat to the fuel and fiber we use," he said. "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."

To make the most of Ag Progress Days, it is helpful to know some of the major demonstrations and activities that are available:

College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building

The year, the focus of programming in the building will be water quality, with exhibits and presentations addressing drinking water, stormwater, agricultural water use, forest buffers and more. 4-H State Council leaders will engage children with water quality by leading "Rain to Drain -- Slow the Flow," an activity to help them understand how water moves on Earth and how we can reduce flooding, maintain groundwater supplies and prevent water pollution. The results of the Pennsylvania Farm Conservation Survey also will be shared, and presentations in the theater will cover water quality, farm antibiotic use and other topics.

The Trade Show

Ag Progress Days offers farm operators "one-stop shopping" to compare goods and services, see the latest machinery in action, and find out about new methods and technologies that can help them maximize productivity. Commercial exhibitors will display virtually every product category, including field machinery, milking systems, animal genetics, storage structures, seed, feed, tools, trailers, sprayers, mixers, livestock housing, utility vehicles, fertilizers, fencing, financial products, insurance and more.

Field demonstrations will give visitors a firsthand look at how the latest models from different manufacturers perform under real-world conditions. No-till corn planters will be among the machinery demonstrated at the show.

Youth Activities

The 4-H Youth Building will house several interactive exhibits and activities. Children can learn about 4-H programming in science, engineering, technology, citizenship, leadership and healthy living. They can find out how to get involved with 4-H, play with rabbits, see robotics demonstrations, and learn about farm and home safety and plant diseases.

Several other activities aimed at children and their families can be found throughout the Ag Progress Days grounds. At the Kids' Climb, children can don safety equipment and harnesses and climb a tree like a professional arborist; Shaver's Creek Environmental Center will showcase turtles, snakes, birds of prey and amphibians; a corn maze offers a fun way to learn facts about Pennsylvania agriculture; and kids can race around a track at the Pedal Go Kart Derby.

The Equine Experience

Horse owners and enthusiasts can enjoy a full schedule of training and breed clinics, demonstrations, informational displays and lectures. Breed exhibitions will range from miniature horses to powerful draft horses.

Penn State Equine Science faculty and staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide information on horse breeds, care, training and more. There will be demonstrations by Spring Mount Percherons of Tyrone, in addition to miniature horse performances and dressage and drill demonstrations.


Free, daily tours will allow visitors to see production and management practices being studied by Penn State researchers at the surrounding, 2,400-acre Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center. Tour attendees are transported by bus, but most tours require some walking or standing. Topics will include American chestnut tree planting, feedlots and grazing for animals, high tunnel fruit and vegetable production, crop rotation, stream buffers and native grasses, industrial hemp research and more.

Farm Safety and Health

Visitors to the Farm Safety Demonstration Area can learn how to reduce the risk of childhood injuries due to falls from hay holes and run-over incidents involving skid steers. Thirty-minute hay hold and skid steer blind spot demonstrations will show how to avoid some the causes of common youth injuries and fatalities. Attendees also can learn about farm safety and emergency response resources.

At the Rural Health and Safety Tent, visitors can take advantage of a variety of health screenings. Free vision tests, blood pressure readings and stroke assessments will be offered daily. Pesticide applicators can earn one core pesticide credit by attending a 30-minute presentation about personal protective equipment.

Crops, Soils and Conservation Area

In the J.D. Harrington Crops, Soils and Conservation Building, specialists from Penn State and other organizations will answer crop production, weed identification and biofuel questions. Visitors can ask questions about crop and nutrient management, no-till practices, organic farming and sustainable agriculture -- and even bring a weed for experts to identify.

The 2017 Pennsylvania Hay Show, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Forage and Grassland Council, will take place in the Harrington Building from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Hay producers can bring samples to be evaluated. This year, new classes of hay have been added, along with larger premiums for class winners.

The Family Room

At the Family Room building, families and children can play mini-games, watch food demonstrations, taste healthy food and drink, participate in a scavenger hunt and learn first aid and firearm safety tips. Hands-on exhibits and demonstrations will cover topics such as diabetes and diet, home food preservation, consumer food safety, the importance of drinking water for proper health and nutrition and avoiding insect bites.

During healthy lifestyles food demonstrations conducted by Penn State Extension educators, visitors can watch the preparation of quick and healthy dishes, taste the resulting fare and receive copies of the featured recipes.

Lawn and Garden Area

Visitors to the Lawn and Garden Area will learn about "fertigation," a process that combines fertilization and irrigation, see flowers from variety trials and have their questions answered by Penn State Master Gardeners and members of the Penn State Extension Food Safety Team.

The Yard and Garden Area will focus on creating pollinator-friendly landscapes and provide information on the Pollinator Friendly Garden Certification program. The Food Safety Team will field questions about preparing a produce farm for food-safety audits.

Pasto Agricultural Museum

The museum offers hands-on exhibits to connect visitors to their agricultural past. The approximately 1,300 items in the collection span from 4,000 B.C. to the 1940s -- before the widespread use of electricity and gasoline-powered equipment -- when farm and household work was accomplished with the muscle power of people and animals.

A special demonstration unveiled at Ag Progress Days will ask visitors to consider what an old-time farmer thought about each day, compared to present-day farmers. Other demonstrations will feature "Axe Whisperer" Jim Walizer, char cloth and fire-starting, the Centre County Historical Society, historical books from the Penn State University Press and Pam, the museum's resident fiberglass milking cow.

The museum will hold its largest annual fundraiser, a silent auction with hundreds of objects available for purchase, Aug. 15-16.

Location, Dates and Times

Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 15; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 16; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 17. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website at Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and Facebook users can find the event at

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Last Updated August 08, 2017