The Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg is in full swing, offering a glimpse at Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry from now until Jan. 11.
Between livestock and poultry competitions, artisan goods on display, and various events available to participate in or watch, the Farm Show offers lots to do. It also offers lots to eat.
We went to the Farm Show Friday to get a taste of the event—literally. With over 10 booths to choose from in the food court, we decided to focus on Fredericksburg-based Bell & Evans.
Bell & Evans also appeared at last year’s farm show, where Governor Tom Wolf tried their products.
We talked to Bell & Evans Executive Vice President and owner Margo Sechler about what the company brought to the table this year.
All photos by LebTown photographer Will Trostel.
In addition to bringing back favorites from last year, such as a gluten-free chicken breast sandwich, the Bell & Evans booth also offered its new Parmesan Breaded Chicken Meatballs, both alone and in a sub. These meatballs were released last October.
“We just wanted to highlight our newest item,” said Sechler. “We know the customers that have taken that item on in their stores are very excited about and the product is very well-liked, so we’re excited to share that.”
Another change this year is that Bell & Evans chicken tenders are now available in a Family Value Pack of 12, in addition to the regular order of 3. According to Sechler, the chicken tenders were a popular item at last year’s Farm Show.
A major change to the booth this year is how the chicken is prepared: the Bell & Evans booth switched from oil fryers to four Vector Multi-Cook Ovens. The products are baked, rather than fried.
“We feel that baking versus frying is a healthier option, and it really shows [our products] at their best quality,” said Sechler. “We just know that that is the best presentation and the highest quality of our product.”
Bell & Evans’ presence at the Farm Show isn’t limited to the food court. The company is also running the Farm Show’s annual chick hatch, which was designed to mirror Bell & Evans’ Fredericksburg hatchery.
“Today, especially our customers, the consumers, they want to know where their food came from: where it was raised, how it was raised, that it had a good life, that it was treated humanely,” said Sechler. “That transparency is really key.”
At their hatchery, newly hatched chicks have immediate access to food and water. At many other hatcheries, chicks can only eat or drink once they have been transported to the farm after all chicks have hatched.
“It’s a very different model than how the industry hatches chicks,” said Sechler. “Our chicks, when they are hatched, they have access to feed and water right away, in a well lit environment, and that gives them a head start with their nutrition and immune system and just everything that their overall health is much better before they go out on the farms to be raised.”
Bell & Evans will be participating in various events this year, including the Draft Horse Hitch and Drive Monday, Junior Market Animal Sale Tuesday, and military appreciation day cooking events Thursday.
According to Sechler, Bell & Evans started working more closely with PennAg and selling products in the food court last year. However, it has been involved with the Farm Show for at least 10 years, largely through supporting the Junior Market Animal Sale.
At this sale 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, youth exhibitors auction off their market animals. 120 lambs, 84 market goats, and 160 pigs will be sold, in addition to an unset amount of cattle.
“As Bell & Evans, we feel that it’s important to support the next generation of agriculture, and it’s just a blast to be with those kids,” said Sechler.
Bell & Evans products will be available in the food court in the Giant Expo Hall over the course of the Farm Show.
The food court’s offerings also include a range of foods from maple syrup products, to milkshakes, to pizza. Check out some of our photos here.
Interested in going to the Farm Show? Take a look at the full calendar of events here.