Witmer crowned 2017 Farm Show Queen

By on October 11, 2017


New Farm Show royalty were crowned Monday night. Shown (left to right) are 2016 Manheim Farm Show Queen  Stephanie Balmer, 2017 Farm Show Queen Alternate Krystal Martin, 2017 Farm Show Queen Emily Witmer, and 2017 Farm Show Queen Second Runner Up Megan Swope. (Photos by Rochelle Shenk)


What better way to celebrate Lancaster County Ag Week than with a visit to the 64th annual Manheim Community Farm Show? Activities kicked off Monday with a ribbon cutting — or, more accurately a “halter unleashing” — of the new Champions Arena; the opening ceremony; and crowning of Farm Show royalty. Activities continue through Friday.

Unfortunately Monday’s rain postponed the baby parade until Tuesday and canceled the antique tractor demonstration. But there was still plenty of fun to be had.

As she prepared to crown her successor, 2016 Farm Show Queen Stephanie Balmer reflected on her year as queen.

“It has been an amazing experience,” she said. “Ag has been such a huge part of my life. Being Farm Show Queen was an opportunity to share something I love with others, including school students.”

Emily Witmer, a 17-year-old Manheim Central senior, was crowned 2017 Farm Show Queen. She is participating in a cooperative education opportunity working at the Lancaster Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) and plans to continue exploring post-graduation prospects. Krystal Martin, a 17-year-old home schooled junior, was selected as first runner-up; and Megan Swope, a 17-year-old Manheim Central senior was selected as second alternate.

Rachel Hollinger was crowned 2017 Junior Queen with Calista Logan as the alternate, Faith VanHanxleden was crowned Farm Show Princess with Payton Miller as the alternate. Laney Hollinger was crowned Junior Princess, and Ginetta Gingrich was named alternate.

Members of the Manheim FFA Club and their animals pose with special guests and speakers for the”halter unleashing” of Champions Arena. Shown (back row, left to right) are Farm Show President Marlin Becker, J. Elam King of Scenic Ridge Construction, Manheim Mayor Scot Funk, PA State Senator Ryan Aument, Jack Aument, Farm Show Second Vice President Glenn Stoltzfus, and PA State Rep. Mindy Fee.

During the Champions Arena “harness breaking,” Farm Show president Marlin Becker said the project to revamp the existing arena began with a small kernel of thought after last year’s Farm Show. A year later, he’s celebrating a nearly $175,000 project that expanded the existing 60-foot by 60-foot arena to about 62-foot by 81-foot. The project utilized space in the existing building and maintained that building’s footprint. Its name, Champions Arena, honors those who have shown animals at the Manheim Farm Show over the past 64 years and all of those who will show there in the future.

“We built this arena, so we expect you to continue coming (here),” Becker told those assembled in the bleachers.

“The community really stepped up and supported this project,” Second Vice President Glenn Stoltzfus added.

Not only is the new arena larger, but it also provides separate entrances for the public and showmen (and women) and their animals, which makes it safer for everyone.

“Whenever the Farm Show does something, it’s first class,” observed Manheim Mayor Scot Funk.

Ground breaking for the project was held in May. In true Farm Show fashion, it was “breaking of the corn” with a feed trough filled with corn. Maintaining the ag theme, the ribbon cutting was instead a halter unleashing.

Speakers at both the Champions Arena dedication and the opening ceremony focused on the role fairs and farm shows play in educating the public about the importance of agriculture in the state.

State Rep. Mindy Fee said 43 percent of the state’s population attends one of the fairs or farm shows held throughout the state.

“These fairs play an important role in educating people about how food lands on their table,” State Senator Ryan Aument said.

“Fairs are places we come together to celebrate agriculture and communities,” added Scott Sheely, special assistant for workforce development at the state Department of Agriculture.

He also presented Farm Show assistant secretary and Manheim Central ag-ed instructor Deb Seibert with the Fair Ambassador Award. Among her key contributions are coordinating the Manheim FFA’s Children’s Farm Show and encouraging students in their efforts to show animals and showcase their skills. This year, she headed the team responsible for the new look of the Farm Show’s website.

Activities, including cooking, woodcarving, and blacksmith demonstrations, miniature horse demonstration, and the Children’s Farm Show, continue throughout the week. Manheim Food Bank will be collecting canned goods during the Farm Show parade Wednesday evening and throughout the week at the Children’s Farm Show area. Last, but certainly not least, is the Farm Show food including the “must-have” milk shakes and fries.

A detailed list of events and activities is available at manheimfarmshow.org.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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