It’s that time of year again – the 96th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show is in town!  If you live in the Harrisburg area, you are most certainly already acquainted with this week-long celebration of the rich agricultural heritage of Penn’s Woods.  There is plenty going on to keep you occupied – tractor pulls, rodeos, sheep-to-shawl, poultry the likes of which you have never encountered, and of course the 1,000 pound butter sculpture.

The shining star in this agri-carnival is without question the food court.  To give you an idea of how popular the food is, in 2011  visitors wolfed down about 100,000 milkshakes, 20,000 dozen potato doughnuts, 7,000 apple dumplings, 11,000 whoopie pies, nearly 9,000 Strawberry Surprise drinks and 4,500 bags of maple cotton candy during last year’s show.  We joined this glorious fest of indulgence on Friday, and constantly overheard things like “this is going to ruin my diet” and “I don’t even WANT to know what’s in these”.    Unfortunately, the ignorance is bliss mindset is why many diets/resolutions fail.  There is no shame on indulging in some calorie-laden treats once in awhile, but you should be comfortable in the knowledge that an overall healthy lifestyle will negate those extra calories, and be aware of what you are putting in your body.  Or better yet, use those extra indulgences as motivation to plug in some extra miles!    So, what is all that delicious Farm Show food going to cost you in time pounding pavement*?  See some of my favorites below:

First, the most popular of all: the venerable Milkshake.  Seriously, people talk about this shake all year.  This beauty weighs in at about 550 calories, or about 30 min of running for an average male at roughly an 8:00 min pace. Worth It.

Next up are the ever popular fried cheese cubes.  These little cubes of goodness are worth the roller-coaster like lines.  Calorie wise they come in a little less than the milkshakes at about 450 calories.   So eat up and plug in a quick 5k the next morning.  Done!

The newest addition to the Farm Show (and my personal favorite this year) is the smoked trout chowder. At only 200 calories, this is one of the lowest-caloric options.  Heck, you can burn 200 calories walking to the duck slide from the food court (briskly).  It’s also darn tasty and made with PA farmed trout, so check it out.

Still hungry?  Me too.  After some potato donuts, it’s time for some more fried goodness.  I’m a big fan of fresh vegetables, but I certainly won’t turn my nose up at battered, deep fried greens with a side of horseradish dipping sauce.  Choose from onions, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or heck: mix ’em all together!  These veggies are deceiving, though.  With the dipping sauce they come in at about 650 calories, or almost 45 minutes of running.

In addition to the treats above, we had some maple cotton candy, lamb stew, turkey chili, and potato donuts.  Did I feel like a pig afterwards?  Heck yeah, but I clocked an 11-mile run the next day and didn’t feel the least bit guilty!

*All calories are estimated as I couldn’t find nutritional facts from the Farm Show.  Let me know if you can find the accurate numbers!