HARRISBURG – Fans of Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania’s world-famous weather-forecasting groundhog, can sign up to be among the first to know if there will be an early spring when he makes his annual prediction on Feb. 2.
For the first time, Punxsutawney Phil’s followers can receive his official prediction via their mobile device by texting “Groundhog” to 247365 between now and Feb. 2. After the initial text message, participants will be invited to submit their e-mail address to receive additional tourism-related messages.
“Punxsutawney Phil holds the fate of winter close to the vest and in his stump until daybreak on Feb. 2, but the moment he emerges you can be among the first to learn of the forecast on your mobile phone,” said Mickey Rowley, deputy secretary for tourism at the Department of Community and Economic Development. “While we would love to have everyone come to the Pennsylvania Wilds to see Phil at Gobbler’s Knob, we don’t want anyone to miss his forecast.”
The text promotion was announced during Punxsutawney Phil’s annual visit to the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which is underway this week in Harrisburg.
“Punxsutawney Phil’s popularity has grown so fast in the last few years. The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the perfect place for people to see him in person,” said Mike Johnston, vice president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.
In addition to a text notification, a Webcast of the Groundhog Day festivities will be available at VisitPA.com, including links to Punxsutawney Phil-related videos on YouTube.
In a tradition dating to the 1800s, Groundhog Day is celebrated each Feb. 2 in Punxsutawney, Jefferson County, about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in the Pennsylvania Wilds. According to folklore, if the groundhog emerges in the early morning and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of wintry weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
The more than 30,000 visitors who visit Punxsutawney each year for Phil’s prognostication can expand their experience by exploring the Groundhog Wine Trail or by staying in a bed-and-breakfast featuring a farm-to-table dining experience.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and George Cornelius, secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, said today that Pennsylvania is always working to improve and promote its agritourism business.
“Agritourism is a growing national trend that unites Pennsylvania’s two largest economic industries – agriculture and tourism,” Redding said. “In 2008, the Agriculture Department launched Keystone Country, an interactive Web site, to highlight agritourism destinations like farm stays, farm markets and roadside stands, county and community fairs and wineries.
“With the site’s user-friendly trip planning tools, people can easily find their way through our state’s bountiful agricultural communities and build a connection to where their food comes from,” Redding added.
“Tourism is responsible for the jobs of more than 600,000 Pennsylvanians and it provides a $26 billion economic impact as it annually draws 138 million visitors. Pennsylvania is the fifth-most visited state in the nation,” Cornelius said.
“Additionally, Pennsylvania’s 58,000 farm families continue to be the stewards of more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. With $4.7 billion in cash receipts annually from production agriculture, Pennsylvania farmers and agribusinesses are the leading economic driver in our state. In total, agriculture contributes nearly $45 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.”
The Pennsylvania Tourism Office, under the state Department of Community and Economic Development, is dedicated to inspiring travel to the State of Independence. For more information, go to visitPA.com or call (800) VISIT PA; become a fan aon Facebook, follow us on Twitter, share photos at flickr.com/visitPA, or watch us on youtube.com/visitPA. For a free sub scri ption to Pursuits Magazine, go to visitPA.com/pursuits.