Farm Show lease deal ‘in final stages’

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Honey, in all its forms, is on display at the Pennsylvania Farm Show which officially opens Saturday.

“It’s 100 percent from the state of Pennsylvania,” an excited Ashley Miller of Lancaster said from behind the Pennsylvania Beekeeper’s Association table in the food court.

This booth is always abuzz at the yearly event in Harrisburg.

“It’s comb honey and this is how it looks when it comes directly out of the hive,” Miller said about a chunk of sticky hive that’s for sale.

Miller also sings the praises of bee’s wax candles which, she says, last 70 percent longer than traditional candles.

“The farm show is very big for us,” Miller said. “It’s one of our biggest shows of the year and it’s nice we can get our product out to people from all over Pennsylvania and beyond.”

But the Pennsylvania Farm Show is not only an agricultural event, it’s the name of the complex in which it’s held. During last year’s budget address, Gov. Tom Wolf called for the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center to be leased. The buzz this week is that the deal’s in its final stages. In basic terms, the state will get at least $200 million up front and pay it back over time, with interest, of course.

“I’m excited about the proposal,” Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said. “I think it could work. It could generate much-needed revenue for the commonwealth.”

Unlike when Harrisburg leased its street and garage parking, which caused rates, fines and citizen anger to increase, the lease of the Farm Show Complex will have no impact on visitors, according to Department of General Services spokesman Troy Thompson, who insists the state will maintain control and ownership of the facility.

“If it makes good financial sense for the commonwealth, then I say I’m all for it,” Papenfuse said.

Miller is also confident that whatever the terms of the final deal, the average Farm Show lover like her won’t get stung.

“I think it’s so well established and such a draw for people it will continue to go on as usual and the show must go on,” Miller said. “It will be here to stay.”

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