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Some vendors, participants opting out of Pennsylvania Farm Show

Later this week, the 2022 Pennsylvania Farm Show will kick off in person, indoors, despite rising COVID cases.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — It's been two years since the Pennsylvania Farm Show was held in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the omicron variant spreading quickly, the show is scheduled to go on as planned this year. Around 500,000 people typically attend the eight-day event, but this year a certain group from Montour County will not.

Jeff Johnstonbaugh and Libby Beiler are part of "Time Warp," a team that participates in the Farm Show sheep-to-shawl competition. They've been competing for nearly 20 years but decided to sit this one out.

"We couldn't justify it. It was too risky," Libby Beiler said. "We don't want to withdraw from the competition but based on the circumstances, we decided we had to."

The two say this was not an easy decision, but they have team members with underlying health conditions.

'So much planning goes into this, and then to have to make that decision not to go, it was just really, really hard," Beiler said.

"It just hurts," Jeff Johnstonbaugh said. "We won't see all the people who we have fun competing with, people who we see only once a year."

Another Farm Show highlight is tasting Pennsylvania wines. But this year, Shade Mountain Winery from the Middleburg area will not be in Harrisburg.

"The safety of our family is always very important to us," Jennifer Nicola said. "With the uncertainty of the world, we opted not to visit the Farm Show this year."

Nicola tells Newswatch 16 the Farm Show is typically a good sales week for the winery. But in addition to COVID-19 concerns, Shade Mountain is also worried about staffing.

"We just weren't sure how things would shake out, and a concern of ours always was having staffing here at the winery and being able to staff the booth space at the Farm Show."

The Pennsylvania Farm Show kicks off Saturday in Harrisburg.

Click here for the visitor's guide.

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