Harrisburg - Punxsutawney Phil, the world's most famous groundhog, paid a visit to the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show on Tuesday, Jan. 11, to help the departments of agriculture and community and economic development promote Pennsylvania's top two industries - agriculture and tourism.
Phil joined Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development Austin Burke, and Mickey Rowley, deputy secretary for tourism.
According to folklore, if Phil sees his shadow when he emerges from his Jefferson County burrow on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does not, there will be an early spring.
Redding spoke about the importance of agritourism, saying the Pennsylvania Farm Show is a great crossroads between the two industries, hosting more than 400,000 people in eight days.
"Agriculture and tourism are Pennsylvania's first industries, and the Pennsylvania Farm Show seamlessly brings them together," said Redding. "There are hundreds of cows, sheep, horses, and pigs here, but there is only one groundhog on these 24-acres."
While waiting for Punxsutawney Phil's prognostication, Rowley said Foursquare users can take steps to earn the inaugural "PA Groundhog Day" badge.
"There is only one weather-forecasting groundhog: Punxsutawney Phil in the Pennsylvania Wilds. This year, anyone will have the opportunity to earn a badge featuring his likeness from visitPA," said Rowley. "This is a one-time only opportunity to proudly sport a badge on your virtual chest as we discover the fate of winter."
Pennsylvania became the first state to partner with Foursquare last May by populating the network with more than 200 state tourism attractions and creating three custom badges: "PA Shooflyer" (dining), "PA Retail Polka" (shopping), and "PA 4 Score & 7" (history). Travelers earn badges by checking in as they visit locations throughout the state. Since the launch, visitPA has amassed more than 30,000 followers and has awarded more than 12,000 badges.
Now anyone, anywhere in the world can earn the "PA Groundhog Day" badge by:
A shout is Foursquare's version of a status update or a tweet. You either shout when you check in at a location, or you can create a standalone shout.
"We're thrilled that visitPA has been able to enhance the experiences of so many visitors through the use of our platform," said Eric Friedman, director of business development at Foursquare. "Pennsylvania's continued enthusiasm and openness to new partnership opportunities and Foursquare's ability to attract and reward people combine to make a powerful partnership."
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 290 commercial exhibitors. The show runs Jan. 8-15 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $10.
For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.
Editor's Note: To receive news releases, media advisories and story ideas, subscribe to the Farm Show Media Service at www.farmshow.state.pa.us (click on Media).
For event pictures, click here.