You might have thought Shari Sell of Manheim was the bravest lady in Baron Country on Monday night.
After all, on a raw evening not getting out of the upper 40s, there she was, milkshake in her left hand, smiling, taking a sip and declaring, “This is the best part of the whole farm show!”
But on second glance, there were plenty of people just as brave, eager to have a Manheim Farm Show milkshake on the opening night of the 58th annual community celebration.
The event is one of the things Shari and her husband, Duane, both Lancaster Countians, like about this area after moving back here from Orange County, Calif., five years ago.
And even on a chilly opening night Monday, with puddles everywhere from rain earlier in the day, the Manheim area was glad to have its farm show back.
Opening night was highlighted by the crowning of the 2011 Farm Show queen, 16-year-old Elizabeth Hess of Penn Township, a Manheim Central High School sophomore.
It’s been a tough year in Manheim, with the loss of four teens, all Manheim Central football players, in a January car crash and then heavy rains and flooding last month.
“This is a really fun event, especially after what our community has gone through,” Mrs. Sell said Monday night. She was accompanied by two other excited showgoers — her daughter, Taylor, who will be 12 in two weeks, and her son, Cameron, 10.
Taylor said she likes seeing and catching up with her friends, while Cameron is a fan of the animals (and milkshakes) and has won Lego contests at the farm show.
Amy Bradford of Maytown was returning to a farm show “that has a special place in my heart,” she said.
“My husband and I used to live in Manheim, and I still consider this to be my ‘home fair,’ ” said Bradford, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pork Producers Council.
Her organization offered “product” samples that were being scarfed up quickly by passersby.
Food is always a highlight of Manheim’s celebration, and multiple food stands were doing a brisk business Monday, even with the chill making for a smaller-than-normal turnout.
The farm show, which runs through Friday night, gives people “a good outlet” to visit friends and neighbors, event vice president Barry Geib said Monday.
“People get to see all of their friends and family in the area, and they get together and have an excellent evening, have some excellent food and visit the various contests.”
New farm show queen Elizabeth, the daughter of Mike and Denise Hess, is involved at school in chorus, orchestra, FFA, the rifle team and cheering. She hopes to work with animals after she’s finished with school.
Elizabeth and queen hopefuls Cammie Johanning and Victoria Lenox had to prepare a speech and write an essay.
Then, Monday, they had to answer a question in front of the audience: “During these tough economic times, why should the community support the farm show?”
All gave good answers, but Elizabeth was named the winner.
The farm show grounds, adjoining the high school and Veterans Memorial Park, will be a sea of events and activities through Friday.
Highlights include the annual parade Wednesday at 7 p.m. and the Manheim Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Expo and Family Fun Night on Thursday.
Visit www.manheimag.org for details.