Teen, steer take top prize at Pennsylvania Farm Show

Claudia Hissong (owner) and Reserve Champion Steer, ‘Macon’ are joined by, from left, Pennsylvania Shorthorn Lassie Princess, Maggie Coyne; Debbie Stahl; Cole Hissong; Spencer Hissong; Regina Hissong; Judge Dr. Dan Eversole; Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding; Senator Mike Brubaker; and Kevin Stahl.

Though she has been to the Pennsylvania Farm Show many times, 2010 was the first year Claudia Hissong decided to show an animal. The result was far more than just an interesting experience. Claudia and her purebred Mainetainer steer Macon won reserve grand champion at the annual Harrisburg event. The 94th Farm Show ran Jan. 9 to 16, with her judging contest the second day.

Claudia, 13 and a seventh-grader at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School, missed the entire week of school as she participated in the popular show.

Her parents, Spencer and Regina, bought Macon as a calf. A year old at the competition, the steer had grown under the tutelage of Claudia, who cared for him at home. "I would wash him and walk him to get him comfortable with the show stick. That's to calm him," she said.

The two entered local shows and county fairs and advanced to the big time at the Farm Show. Their final weekend together Claudia took care of the 1,420 pounds of beef again. She fed, watered and bathed Macon. Then she entered the arena before a crowd and the judges. They liked what they saw for the junior livestock division. Macon was selected the top in the other purebred steer category and went on to compete for the grand champion. The reserve banner was Claudia’s

"I showed him on Sunday and sold him on Tuesday," she said. He was purchased by Quality Greenhouses and Perennial Farms and Fulton Bank for $7,000.

"Today he's probably butchered," Claudia continued. "It's very sad but I know it's the outcome."

The rest of the week she enjoyed the variety of activities available to visitors. She looked at animal exhibits, watched the market pig and beef breeding shows, and partook of what many people consider the highlight of the agricultural show, tasty Pennsylvania-produced treats. She tried milkshakes, mozzarella cheese cubes and potato donuts. Her brother Cole, 15, joined her for a good part of the week.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the United States, held at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center. This year approximately 500,000 visitors viewed 285 commercial exhibits and 10,000 competitive exhibits. The displays are housed in 11 buildings and three arenas. The show's purpose is to feature the state's largest industry and educate farmers and non-farmers alike. Admission is free.

And now that Claudia has met with such success, she would like to enter the show ring again.

Also among Farm Show winners from Greencastle was Cedar View Farms for angus breeding cattle.