There's something irresistible about the Pennsylvania Farm Show food court.

Just ask Paradise Township resident Lois Rankin.

The 66-year-old has worked at the PA Livestock Association's booth for the past 10 years.

"Every year when I'm done, I'm so tired I think I can't do this again because I'm getting too old," said Rankin.

"But the time rolls around, and I'm ready to see all of the people again."

The time has rolled around again. The annual 2013 Farm Show begins Saturday and runs through Jan. 12.

Rankin looks forward to serving crowd favorites like roast beef and lamb stew to friends she does not see during the rest of the year. And the Livestock Association will have a new offering this year: a grilled beef sausage sandwich with peppers and onions.

As executive secretary for the association, Rankin puts in more than 100 hours volunteering at the stand and coordinating volunteers from across the state.

The animals: Of course, the Farm Show is about more than eating, and York County residents will have a hand in making sure there

are farm animals to visit with as well.

Scott Johnston, owner of Starry Night Alpacas in Lewisberry, is a member of the Pennsylvania Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (PAOBA), which will have a booth in the North Hall featuring everything from socks to sweaters made with alpaca wool.

Weavers and spinners will give demonstrations using alpaca yarn, and alpacas will be at the stand each day for people to pet, he said.

"It's amazing how many people -- this is the first time they've seen these critters," Johnston said. "So many people know what a llama is, but they have no idea what an alpaca is."

"It's fun looking at people's face when they see them, and the children really love it," he said. "I have a grand old time talking to the people."

Competition: James Parlett's animals won't only be on display at the show; they'll also be competing.

Parlett, 74, and his son, Gus Parlett, both of Lower Chanceford Township, will be entering 10 pigs in the bred gilt category. They won supreme champion gilt the past two years and hope to win again this year.

"It's genetics. That's what you gotta start with," said James Parlett. "And then it's feed and care, and you have to have a little bit of luck."

Parlett chooses which pigs he will take about a month before the farm show and puts them in a separate area and continues feeding them as usual.

The pigs will be judged Friday and sold by auction Saturday but will stay on display at the farm show all week.

Taking the animals from the auction block to their pens and trying to maneuver through the crowds is the hardest part, said Parlett.

There are usually around 150 entries for the bred gilt category, he said.

Farm Show

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the country, with 24 acres under one roof that include nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors.

The event is held at the Farm Show Complex at North Cameron and Maclay streets in Harrisburg. Exhibits are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days, and the show runs Jan. 5-12.

Admission is free, and parking is $10.

For more information, visit