CARBON COUNTY, Pa. — Placement ribbons line the office of Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Mahoning Township.
Owner Chris Botek usually wins one every year at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, but this year that won't happen. The event has gone virtual because of the pandemic.
"The Farm Show is a huge part of our industry. It gives us a chance to get out, talk to the public, and show them all the different varieties of trees that are grown in Pennsylvania, and we hold our Christmas tree and wreath competition there. For us not be able to go there and have it, it's a letdown," said Botek.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg brings in millions of dollars and sees more than 500,000 visitors.
Botek tells Newswatch 16 a virtual appearance just didn't cut it for him and other members of the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association.
"It's very, I am not going to say hands-on, but you're in close proximity with other people, and people like to come and walk through the trees, see the trees, and talk to us about what they are, the kinds, the varieties. It was a good decision, I think," said Botek.
While Botek says talking with visitors about trees is always fun, it's the Christmas tree competition that draws crowds.
"The Pennsylvania Christmas tree, the competition is held there during the Farm Show. It is the only commodity at the Farm Show that the public actually picks the grand champion. The grand champion and the reserve champion from the Farm Show get to move on to our national competition. The winner of the national competition is eligible to put a tree in the White House," said Botek.
Botek tells Newswatch 16 while it is upsetting that they weren't able to participate this year, members plan to be back next year and in full force.