Manheim Farm Show (Lancaster County)

Manheim Farm Show

Jersey’s Compete for Best-of-Show

October 15, 2014

Manheim is a small agricultural community of approximately 5,000 inhabitants founded in 1762 by Henry W. Stiegel, a native of Cologne, Germany. It is in Manheim where Stiegel established his famous glassworks. Although Stiegel’s name and notoriety is inexorably linked to Manheim, the town itself is probably more well known for its agriculture and mid-Atlantic rural charm associated with the Mennonite and Amish communities. Both of these groups were persecuted minorities known as the Anabaptists who emigrated to southern Pennsylvania from Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany primarily between the late 1600’s and the mid-1700’s.

Manheim is situated in the northern part of Lancaster County. It seems wherever I go in the United States – and sometimes even overseas – when I mention that I’m originally from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I receive the reply, “The Amish!” Yes, the Amish, fertile farmland, and the pervasive smell of freshly spread manure. That’s my hometown for ya!  Over the years since I left Pennsylvania, first for the Peace Corps and then for Vermont, Lancaster County has grown increasingly commercialized. Stretches of rural roads between my hometown and Lancaster to the south and east that once boasted large farms now stand cluttered with gated communities, strip malls and fast food restaurants. Somehow, the smallness of Manheim has mostly repelled the commercial invasion – mostly…


There’s now a MacDonald’s where a cornfield used to grow and to the south of town sprawls one of the largest auto auctions in the United States. Still, farms prevail in Manheim where other communities in Lancaster County and its farmers have sold out and lost much of their rural character to the growing appetite of the capitalist monster. If you know the story of Brigadoon, Manheim’s a sort of modern day version of that. Sort of. Still, it’s rural charm is slowly being gnawed at its periphery.

But you certainly wouldn’t be able to tell by the tone and taste of the 61st annual Manheim Farm Show. It’s small-town fair done in a big way. I’m going to choose to display it in more of its small town charm through my photographs. My daughter visited from Philadelphia and my brothers and cousins converged for family festivities that are an annual occasion. After all, the parade marches right in front of my mother’s house.  We have front row seats!

I took parade pictures using mostly 1/2 – 3/4 second exposures on my tripod mounted camera. Call it the “Ghost Parade”, if you will. After the evening parade my daughter and I ran out to the exhibits that are just a few blocks away. I returned the following morning to find farmers waking up their animals, cleaning their straw beds and brushing them up for the day’s judged competitions.  Here’s to rural America!  May it never disappear!  Remember where that food and drink come from that fills your refrigerator, quenches your thirst and satisfies your hunger.  It sure isn’t grown on the 50th floor of some skyscraper.


My daughter lives in Philadelphia. I arrived 15 minutes early to the Lancaster train station so I could snap a time-exposed picture of the train coming in. This is a 1/2 second exposure at F/36 100 ISO.

Candy Apple

One of the first things we did was walk out to the park to buy some french fries drenched in vinegar and a candy apple!

Candy Apple 4 Me


Lined up on lawn chairs for the parade in front of my mother’s house, I asked my mother, daughter, eldest brother and two cousins (left to right) to sit very still – a la early 19th century long exposure photography – while they waved their hands. This is a 2 1/2 second exposure at 400 ISO F/13. The three men in “ghost image” standing in the rear are my two other cousins, my other brother and a neighbor.

These next few pictures taken of the parade were intentionally exposed for anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 seconds at ISOs 800 and 1600. My goal was to blur the parade images or create “ghost-like” effects while capturing at least one focused image melded with the blur. No Photoshop techniques are used other than slight increases in clarity and color.

flag wavers     Marching Band 1

Marching Band 2

Marching Band

Milk Truck

Milk Truck


Antique Tractors

An evening visit to the goats, sheep, pigs, tractor displays, exhibits and rides

Funny Goat


Pigs Sleeping

Old Tractor

Melons and Prizes

Fun Rides for Kids


My daughter and I are big fans of scare-you-out-of-your-pants horror movies. This is my attempt at some horror through the lens, or at least surreal…

The following morning I awoke with the roosters and traipsed back out to the farm show complex for some quality time with the cows.

Covered Bridge

At the Manheim covered bridge and park

Cleaning the Cows

A long exposure shot of a farmer cleaning her Holsteins for the day’s upcoming competition.

4 second exposure, F/18, ISO 200

Waking up the Cows

Another longer exposure shot at ISO 400 for 1 second at F/14

Cleaning Up

Getting ready for show: shot at ISO 400 for 1/2 second at F/9


And on my way out of town I snapped a few pictures of an Amish farmer working his mules in the field.

Amish Plowing

Amish Plowing B&W

Coming Soon:

– Rock

– Photos Taken from Roadside, or Inside a Car


All content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

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