8/31/2013 7:00 AM
By Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade Special Sections Editor
The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex will have a golden glow next weekend with the start of the 50th All-American Dairy Show.
Organizers are calling this show a “Celebration of Generations of Excellence.” Over the course of seven days, 22 dairy shows will take place.
“This will be the largest show in years,” All-American Show manager Jim Sharp said.
To date, entries are up more than 6 percent, and Sharp expects the final entry count to reach 10 percent more entries than the 2012 show.
As of press time, more than 2,800 dairy cattle are entered. The show’s 1,200 exhibitors will travel from 27 states and Canada to compete.
In addition to the dairy shows and regularly scheduled contests, there will be plenty of special events.
Rita Kennedy, president of the Pennsylvania Dairy and Allied Industries Association, which sponsors the show, said this year there is an action-packed schedule and one of the challenges in organizing the show was fitting in all the special events.
She credits anniversary chairman Jay Houser and his committee for organizing many of the special events at this year’s show.
“We put together a pretty good celebration,” Kennedy said. “The hardest part was finding the time to do everything we wanted to do. It’s going to be a really busy week.”
First is the addition of several new supreme champion awards. For the All-American Dairy Show’s supreme champion pageant on Sept. 12, two new awards were added — the supreme champion heifer and supreme champion best bred and owned.
Kennedy said there will be several special exhibitor drawings at the supreme pageant, including for a 4x4 quad.
The National Dairy Shrine Banquet moved from the World Dairy Expo to the All-American and will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 11.
There will be the Golden Jubilee Wine and Cheese reception on Sept. 8. And on Sept. 9, the All-American Dairy Show will honor its Obie Snider, Pioneer and Image Award winners.
This is Kennedy’s 10th year as president of the committee that oversees the show. Her father-in-law, Frances Kennedy, is one of the show’s founding board members.
She has been a part of many of the show’s memorable moments from watching great cows compete in the show ring to the 2004 show when she and the board had to cancel the show because of the flooding in the Farm Show Complex.
Over the years, many nationally recognized dairy cows started their meteoric rise to the top of the dairy industry by winning an All-American supreme champion banner.
Kennedy recalled the Guernsey, Indian Acres MM Pistachio Pie; the Jersey, Veronica; the Brown Swiss, Jinx; as well as a few of the great breed leaders who crossed the tanbark in Harrisburg.
Kennedy stressed that the show’s success has been built on the volunteer force behind the scenes. The show committee will be honoring its volunteers past and present with a volunteer recognition picnic next Saturday.
Of course, another element of the show is its youth component. This will be the 10th year for the Premier National Junior Show.
Kennedy said the development of the youth days at the All-American provides options for youths to gain insight on dairy career options from either developing their own dairy herds or pursuing a career in a dairy-related field.
Junior show chairwoman Patti Hushon says it will be an exciting time for youths participating at the show. She said the junior show’s Facebook page topped 11,000 views in the past week.
Hushon calls the events “the most mind-blowing opportunities for juniors.” Junior exhibitors who attend the opening ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 8, are eligible for more than $35,000 in prizes, including seven show-aged calves donated by All-American breeders.
Another highlight will be a free concert for youth exhibitors on Sept. 7, featuring country music artist Greg Bates.
“This is the place for the country’s youth to be in September,” Hushon said.