The first few days of the 97th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show had many winners from Schuylkill County, but the winner of the Celebrity Draft Horse Race stands out due to his position as an elected official, as well as his lack of experience behind a horse.
State Rep. Mike Tobash, R-125, won the celebrity race Tuesday at the annual event in Harrisburg. The event raises money for the Farm Show Scholarship Foundation.
“It was pretty exciting for me,” Tobash said Wednesday. “I never participated in an event like that before. I’ve never rode in a horse-drawn wagon.”
Tobash was one of 16 contestants who were timed as they steered two horses and a wagon through an obstacle course. It was the third year for the event, he said.
“I’m happy to be on the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee, so when (they) asked me to be a part of the event I was happy to do it,” Tobash said. “The foundation promotes agriculture by providing scholarships for the youth and goes hand-in-hand with what the farm show is doing, and that’s showcasing the agricultural products in Pennsylvania.”
Tobash said the race came down to the wire with Secretary of Agriculture George Greig.
“I really did enjoy it,” Tobash said. “It was a little intimidating but I listened to my coach and I’m happy to bring the plaque back to Schuylkill County and the 125th District.”
The horses were participants from other events at the farm show. Tobash was sponsored by Sterman Masser Inc., Sacramento, and controlled a horse-drawn carriage from Bee Tree Trail Carriage and Wagon Tours, Shartlesville.
Tobash said he has been spending a lot of time at the farm show as a member of the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee.
“Certainly, agriculture in our area is extremely important to the commonwealth,” Tobash said. “I think the farm show showcases the importance of agriculture in the state.”
He said this year’s theme of “Made in Pa” for the farm show goes along with the House’s effort to promote Pennsylvania products with the “PA Preferred” trademark.
“We want to highlight the products that our agriculture brings to the market and encourage people to buy local. That goal has really resonated with the House,” Tobash said.
Tobash also won a celebrity showmanship competition at the farm show last year. He said next year he is looking to win the “triple crown” by winning a third event.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show runs until Saturday and is the largest indoor agricultural event in the U.S. with 10,000 competitive exhibits, nearly 300 commercial exhibitors and more than 400,000 visitors attending each year, according to the farm show website. For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.