Farm Show offers low-stimulation shelters for sensory-sensitive guests

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Farm Show is a pandemonium of sights and sounds: food, exhibits and dense crowds. For some, all that stimulus can get a bit overwhelming.

This year, you can find all the peace you need just a few steps away from the food court in Giant Expo Hall.

"It's a great place to escape, calm down and have a break," said Shannon Powers, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

The Farm Show is offering several "low-stimulation shelters" throughout the exposition. Each shelter is a space designed for children with autism or anyone with sensory sensitivities.  Inside, calm lighting and a soothing glide chair greet visitors, as well as sensory objects with which to play.

"We understand that it`s kind of a challenge, but this is a thing we`re doing to make the show accessible to everyone," Powers said.

Though designed for those with sensory sensitivities, the shed is open to anyone who needs a quiet space.

Amy Miller of Duncannon took advantage of the space when she brought three of her grandkids to the Farm Show Jan. 3.

"They tend to get overstimulated," Miller said, as her 8-year-old grandson Blake chased his 3-year-old cousin Jaxson around in circles. The kids love farm equipment, Miller said, so she wasn`t surprised by their sudden burst of energy.

Before heading off for milkshakes, the family took a quick break in the shed.

"It gives people somewhere that they can actually still go but then calm them down," Miller said. " So they don`t have to leave and can enjoy the entire show."

The low-stimulation shelter is just one way the farm show is being inclusive. Another event, the Exceptional Rodeo, allows children with special needs to participate to showcase their skills. The Exceptional Rodeo is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday in the New Holland Arena.

All low-stimulation shelters are marked on the Farm Show's map, which can be found on pages 56 to 57 of the Visitor's Guide.


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