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Somerset County residents’ handiwork on display at the Pennsylvania Farm Show

January 3, 2019

As the Pennsylvania Farm Show gets ready to kick off this weekend, Somerset County residents have helped to create one of its newest exhibits.

Farm Show officials asked several local residents around Thanksgiving to make 24 awnings for the Farmers Market at this year’s show.

Connie Marteeny said the staff provided patterns for the awnings, but it seemed like a daunting task in the beginning.

“I was overwhelmed when I saw over 75 yards of material laying in my basement that needed to be sown,” she said.

Betty Lou Svonavec said Farm Show staff were looking for an “old fashioned market” look, and six people worked for two weeks on duck cloth fabrics to make the awnings. Some of the special stylings, like the trim, required volunteers to do research on sites such as YouTube to make the designs.

“We would go there and work for hours,” she said. “We took the one awning (state officials) had and made a pattern off of it.”

Vivian Kimmel said it was a group effort, with each worker focused on individual tasks to produce the multicolored awnings ahead of schedule.

“We cut, pressed, sowed and pressed again, and that’s how it worked out,” she said.

While Farm Show staff members created the wooden portions of the displays, state officials said the residents really made the project their own and ran with it.

“They took our ideas and put it into a practical sense,” said Heidi Svonavec, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture assistant executive director. She is Betty Lou Svonavec’s daughter.

The Farmers Market, which will be located in the complex’s Main Hall, is a new exhibit. The market will allow visitors to purchase a variety of state and local produce, including cheese, vegetables, honey and maple products.

“We’re trying to gain more interest and more awareness of farmers markets throughout the state,” Heidi Svonavec said. “Just trying to push the idea of local foods, where your food comes from and impacting your local economy in the agriculture industry.”

The Farm Show is now in its 103rd year, and is the largest agricultural exhibition in the state.

The show features 12,000 competitive exhibits, which include more than 5,200 animal competitions and 300 commercial exhibitors. The show starts Saturday and runs until Jan. 12 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.

“We have a lot of new and exciting things happening at the 2019 Farm Show, and we are looking forward to sharing that with everyone,” Heidi Svonavec said.

The county residents are planning to take a trip Monday to see the fruits of their labor up close.

Betty Lou Svonavec said the group plans to just “take it all in.”

“Some locals get to show their handiwork at the Farm Show, and we were happy to do it,” she said.

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