Walking around West Lampeter’s community fair this week, Seth Kensinger and some other Manheim farm show officials realized something.
“We were saying, ‘We need something like this, something positive, to be happening in our community,'” Kensinger recalled.
Starting with the January accident that claimed the lives of four members of the Manheim Central High School football team and continuing through September’s heavy local flooding, “we’ve had a rough year in the Manheim area” since last year’s farm show, Kensinger said.
“So it’s a real positive to have something like the farm show to look forward to.”
Maybe needed by local residents more than ever in its history, the 58th annual Manheim Community Farm Show starts Monday and runs through Friday evening.
As always, the farm show grounds, adjoining Manheim Central High School and Veterans Memorial Park, will be a sea of events and activities — with lots of food.
Highlights include the queen contest on opening night, Monday; the yearly townwide celebration known as the parade on Wednesday; and a series of sales and special events through the week.
But just having the farm show, which as always will wrap up the fair/farm show season in Lancaster County, is in itself enough of a gift, officials said.
The recent flooding did hit the farm show, leaving 3 to 4 feet of water in many of its buildings.
Fortunately, there was only minor damage, and losses were limited to paper supplies, carpeting and a sound system.
And just as hundreds of volunteers work during the farm show week getting things done, over the past two weeks many volunteers have worked tirelessly to clean up the facilities and get things ready for opening night.
The farm show also teamed with Manheim Borough to open its facilities as a distribution center to donate items for local flood victims.
Now organizers are excitedly pointing toward opening night, which will be highlighted by the opening ceremonies and the crowning of the 2011 farm show queen, at 6:45 p.m.
Other highlights Monday include music on the main stage at 6 p.m., preceding the opening ceremonies, and the annual baby parade at 6:15 p.m.
Rain date for the baby parade is Tuesday, and in case of rain, the queen contest will be held inside the high school auditorium, as it was in 2010.
Tuesday will feature animal contests; baked-goods judging; and the children’s, youth, ladies’ and men’s pedal tractor pull.
Wednesday will feature the goat show at 9 a.m., the sheep show at 1 p.m., the “Alpaca Obstacle Demonstration” at 4 p.m. and the farm show parade at 7 p.m.
During the parade, the Manheim FFA and Manheim Young Farmers will collect nonperishable items for the Manheim Food Bank. Because of the flooding, there is even more need for food donations this year, officials said.
On Thursday and Friday, the Manheim Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Expo will be held in the high school gymnasium. It is free and open to the public.
Thursday also is “Family Fun Night,” featuring a wide range of family activities.
Farm show events actually get started at 7 o’clock tonight with a gospel music concert by the York-based gospel/bluegrass group “Set Free” at Salem United Methodist Church, 140 N. Penn St.
Admission is free, and an offering will be taken to support the Manheim FFA’s children’s farm show exhibit, which runs through the week.
Returning is the popular “Masters of the Chainsaw” woodcarver, Dennis Beach, who will be on hand Monday through Thursday, with all his woodcarvings to be sold at the annual farm show auction Thursday night.
All proceeds raised this year will be used to help to keep the farm show operating despite any decrease in state funding .
As always, parking and attendance are free.