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International Plowing Match

International Plowing Match Re-visited

Anne Brooks
by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Anne Brooks

This year was the 100th anniversary of the International Plowing Match and it took place in Mitchell Ontario.  The event took place from September 17th – 21st and I went on the Friday, which actually turned out to be a great idea because unfortunately, due to poor weather, they had to close the event early.  The whole event was flooded on the Saturday.  Not that Friday had the greatest weather either, it had rained a lot that morning, which resulted in my very muddy rubber boots, and unfortunately the weather was so poor the snow birds cancelled their show, but there was still a lot to see, despite the damp day.

This was the second plowing match that I have attended, I was lucky enough to attend the event last year. I noticed that the communities that are chosen to host the plowing match definitely make it their own; each one showcases a different aspect of farming.

One of the first things I saw was a great display of draft horses, they even had them parading around.  These horses are so elegant, and so large!  They were all from local farms.

I checked out the schedule of events before I drove out to Mitchell, and made a point of picking out a couple of my favourite activities to watch, the square dancing tractors, aka “Team Farmall” and the Dodge Ram rodeo.  It never ceases to amaze me how technical the tractor’s dance routine is, and how they are able to move so effortlessly.

To celebrate 100 years of agriculture and the International Plowing Match, there were some great displays of antique farm machinery and current farm machinery.  There was also a great display showcasing all of the other counties which had been involved in the plowing matches as hosts in the past.  It was amazing to see the history of this event!

The International Plowing Match is an event that is so well planned.  It moves around to different counties each year, and has different people involved in planning it as well.  They rely on locals to make it what it is, and from what I can tell it works out! It is amazing to see what each county finds original, and how they want to make the event their own.   I know the organizers were probably disapointed with how the event ended, but from someone who attended the event I say WELL DONE International Plowing Match 2013 committee, you did a great job!


International Plowing Match Re-visited

Anne Brooks
by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Anne Brooks

Up Early...

Most people sleep in on their days off. Not me. On Friday, September 21st I got up bright and early, picked up my sister and drove to Roseville, Ontario for the International Plowing Match. We got to the Plowing Match around 9:30 a.m. I recommend getting there early. We heard that those who got to the Plowing Match an hour later, had an hour long wait to get into the parking area.

So Much To See...

Once inside there was so much to see and do, there are exhibits for everything, a variety of farming groups, community groups and local businesses. There are also various competitions such as the Queen of the Furrow and of course plowing. The first thing my sister and I went to see was the West Coast Lumberjack show. I have never seen a Lumberjack show, and it was amazing. Those Lumberjacks are quite entertaining; they were climbing huge logs and trees as if they were Spiderman. After that we watched them hang precariously on a small piece of wood while chopping another log.

Performing Tractors

After the Lumberjack demonstration we went to check out Team Farmall. Team Farmall is the name of the square dancing tractors. This group formed in 2007 in preparation for the 2008 International Plowing Match which took place in Bruce County, home of Team Farmall. The Team travels around to different venues to show off their skills as square dancing tractors. The oldest tractor they use in their performance is a 1930’s Farmall tractor. Those performers showed a lot of skill. They are really able to make their tractors dance. I have seen Team Farmall perform before, and they never disappoint!

Walking the Show

While walking around we were able to sample different types of maple syrup from local businesses – delicious! We also took a look at an antique tractor display and an Amish barn raising. That was quite the experience, the barn they were building was very large and it was being put together the old fashioned way.

The Rodeo...

One thing that I was looking forward to was the Dodge Ram Rodeo. I saw them perform a couple summers ago at the Exeter Rodeo. Dodge Rodeo travels throughout the summer and they compete, gain points and then go into a final competition in October. Since the Plowing Match takes place in September, they are nearing the end of their season and gearing up for the finals. The rodeo is a competition for any age. They have teenagers, adults, men and women competing in the various categories such as bareback riding, team roping and pole bending.

I had never been to the International Plowing Match, and I had a great time, I am looking forward to going again next year to the 2013 event in Perth County.

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International Plowing Match

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

God Speed The Plow

The above is the title of the book that explains the history of the Ontario Plowmen’s Association. It was written by John Fennel who retired as Secretary Manager of the Ontario Plowmen’s Association in 1999. This is the organization that hosts the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IMP). Each year the event is held in a different location. This year it was being held near the Village of Crosby in the Township of Rideau Lakes. Hosting this tremendous event takes thousands of man-hours; in fact, each one takes over three years to plan. The International Plowing Match is run with military precision. I asked one of the volunteers how many acres were used. He told me about 1000 acres. The land is not only used for the plowing match, but holds a huge rural expo, storage areas and a trailer park that would rival any permanent deluxe site. The trailer site includes hydro, water and sanitation. We visited the Match on Wednesday. It was a two and a half drive from Cobourg to Crosby. Just before we reached the village of Crosby the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) re-directed us down a gravel country road. We followed the IMP signs until we came to the plowing match site. We were directed into one of the many parking areas and followed the volunteers’ instructions to our parking spot. We were just in time to climb aboard one of the hay wagon that would take us to the Expo part of the event. There was no seating, so everyone had to stand and keep standing through the jarring ride through the fields. To me the wagons being used looked like they were transporting prisoners to work in the field. Judi, however, told me they reminded her of her Grandfather and his farm. She her twin sister used to jump on the wagon for a fun ride. As we arrived at the entrance wagons from other parking area were letting off their passengers. It was a regular traffic hub! We stepped off our wagon and walked over to the John Deere Gate. We paid our $12.00 (each) and entered the world of agriculture, but first we needed to get a plan of the Expo grounds…

Conservation 101…

Almost immediately we stopped. People were gathering around a roped off area. We joined the crowd to see what was happening. At the point nothing was happening, but it was about to. We had joined those standing and sitting around the roped off area to watch the raptor show and no, I am not talking about a bunch of basketball players dunking basket balls. I am talking about real live birds, the kind that eats meat ( and small “dogs”) and have long sharp talons. The MC, who was also the main handler, told us about the Canadian Raptor Conservancy, what they did and where they were located. The first bird they brought out was a Harris Hank. That was followed by a young Snowy Owl and then a Red Tail Hawk. The Red Tail Hawk was very friendly and even landed on a couple of heads, including my own. Unfortunately the bird had flown away before Judi could take a photo. I was afraid the bird’s talons would pierce my hat, but they didn’t. Our raptor host was very passionate about the Red Tail Hawk and suggested that Canada make it our National Bird. The two final birds were the smallest and largest of the raptors. First came the smallest, the Kestrel or Sparrow Hawk and then the Golden Eagle. All of the birds put on a great show, fly and swooping above the crowd. All too soon the show was over and the crowd went their own way. We decided to take a look at the large Conservation tent. Many different organizations, both private and public, had display booths to tell their story. Back outside the tent the sun was shinning brightly. We started down “First Street” (the rows were conveniently named) to look at all the Expo had to offer. The streets were organized according to products and services being offered. Scattered amongst the various booth were food vendors and entertainment. This street appeared to have a forestry and wood cutting theme…

The Lumberjack Show…

As we were walking along First Street we noticed a large crowd gathering around a staged area. There were two sets of bleachers. Fortunately we were able find a space for us to sit. We were at the West Coast Lumberjack Shows’ demonstration. I had heard from a friend of mine that this a fantastic show to watched, so Judi and I settled in for the ¾ of hour wait. As we sat there more and more people started to arrive. It looked like the Lumberjacks’ performance was going to be very popular. Finally it was show time. Two logs had been set up on the stage. Without notice two men came to the stage and started chain sawing through each of their logs. The first one through was declared the winner. The MC then came on stage and ordered the loser to make something from an upright log that had been place at the front of the stage. In short order he made a miniature chair! Now the real competition was on. There were two lumberjacks per team. The team closest to Judi and me was the favourite. The fix was in the owner of the show was on that team! I won’t say that there was any cheating on their part, while I will say that, but it was all in good fun. The competition included throwing an axe at a bulls-eye target, cross bow log sawing, chain sawing, pole climbing, log rolling and jousting. The last two events caused a lot of laughter as both participant fell (pushed) into the water. Luckily it was a warm day and they dried quickly! The audience really got caught up in the performance, clapping and cheering on their favourite team. Time appeared to pass very quickly, because the show seemed to stop a few minutes after it began. The truth is that the show lasted almost an hour but mesmerized everyone in the audience. With the show being over, it was now time to continue our walk down First Street…

Continuing on First Street…

By the time we left the Lumberjack show and started our walk, the street was full. The street was lined with different types of products. First there were the small engine companies, chain saws, riding lawn mowers, small tractors and All Terrain Vehicles. Further down there was a tent offering their services if you suffered from any number of ailments. As we neared the end of the street there was a booth selling cool lemonade and BBQ food. There was a large was a large bazaar type booth with all sorts of items to tempt Expo goers. Just as we reached the end of the street, a helicopter took off from behind the tents. They were offering helicopter rides to see the entire International Plowing Match grounds by air. I believe there were two copters operating so the attraction must have been very popular. The first end tent we came to housed the Healthy Lifestyle Cooking Show. Looking inside the tent, people were intently listening to the presenter on stage. Next to the cooking show tent was the artisan tent. The aisles were lined with craft and art booths. One of the booths we stopped made beautiful stained glass pieces. They were particularly appropriate for this show because their theme was Birds and Bugs. Another booth was occupied by our old acquaintance wildlife artist Robert Bishop. Robert and his wife attend many different shows throughout the course of the year. Like so many artist we know, we first met Robert at the Cobourg Waterfront Festival. We returned to the bright sunshine outside to continue our explorations…

Second Street - Where You Never Know Who You’ll Meet…

Just to the west of the artisan tent was the Theatre Tent. Here, each day, they gave a number of different presentations. The presentation when we looked in was “Through Time and Shy – Stop, Lunch and Listen”. One of the many great features used by this event is the use of service roads. They run between each of the main streets. After the Theatre Tents we started up the incline on Second Street. Again booths lined each side of the street. Part way up the hill I spied a huge apparition coming towards us! It was in the shape of my brother Chuck and two of his friends. I was amazed. Here in this massive field of tents and attractions I meet my brother. What are the odds? You none believers might think that this was a planned event, but you’d be wrong. I knew he and his friends were going to attend the International Plowing Match, but I had no idea what day or what time. It was fate, of course, we were just meant to cross paths at that day and that time. We left Chuck and his friends to continue there wanderings, while Judi and I pushed on up the hill. On our way up we passed several food booths, a large General Motors display tent and even larger trucks. On the crest of the hill an energy saving windmill had been set up and was standing tall in the wind. At the end of the street we turn west onto Leeds-Grenville Avenue to go to Third Street. On the south of the Avenue a Dodge dealership had set up an off road test track. There were a number of vehicles bumping along on the track testing. The drivers were testing both the vehicles and their driving skills. Further along there was a Leeds-Grenville Firefighters display asking people if they had “Practiced their Escape Plan”. In was now time to tackle Third Street…

Down and Over…

We started down Third Street. As with the other streets, product booths and food vendors lined either side of the street. The top of the street featured various farm related products. Part way down the street we heard music and saw a large stage area. We crossed over to Forth Street and came right to the staged area. Several large stands had been set up facing the stage for Expo attendees to sit and enjoy the music. We listen for some time to the band that was on stage on then continued our journey, now on Forth Street. Ahead of us was a huge crane with a bucket attached to the end. The crane’s bucket had a number of people in it and the crane was extending its arm high into the sky. The people in the bucket had a birds-eye view of the Tent City. I am not sure if I would want to go up in that bucket, but the people who did seemed to really enjoy themselves. We continued down the hill, passed the Expo’s Souvenir Tents and their future events display. Next year’s match will be held in Bruce County, 2009 in Timiskaming and 2010 in Elgin County. Finally we reach the end of the street. As we rounded the corner the Plowmen’s Tent and the Little Sprout’s Tent were to the north of us. It was now time to tackle the slop of Fifth Street…

Serious Equipment…

As soon as we made the turn up Fifth Street we started to notice the massive farm equipment. To say the equipment was impressive would be an understatement. Perhaps not to a seasoned framer, but to a “poor” city boy it was impressive. Walking up the hill we were surrounded not only by large equipment but by even larger modular outbuildings and storage sheds. At the top of the Sixth Street was the Tackaberry’s antique truck display. According to a website I visited, the Tackaberry Trucks are owned by George Tackaberry of Athens, Ontario and have the largest collection of International Trucks in the world. Judging by the size and scope of his display, it’s got to be true! The collection is simply staggering. It’s hard to imagine how he transports his collection to each show he attends. Again looking at several websites, it seems the museum has travel quite a bit. I know I have attended a few International Plowing Matches and I have seen them at each show. It must be a real sense of pride for Mr. Tackaberry to have such a magnificent collection. We would see more of his collection on our way back up from the Antiques and Historical Park. We continued down the street stopping along the way to admire the machinery on display. The effort by these equipment companies bring their products to the Expo must have been Herculean. Towards the end of the street we wet up with David Boyd, the Official Town Crier for the Township of Rideau Lakes. He was kind enough to pose for a photograph. He had officially declared the International Plowing Match open the day before and was here today to help people enjoy and appreciate the different attractions and products being offered. After speaking with Town Crier Boyd we decided to have a late lunch. We ate at Guy Duchesne Cookhouse which was set up like a main street bistro. We ate our lunch in a little eating area just off the side of the cookhouse. Judi finished her meal more quickly than I did (she had a lot less!) and while I was finishing mine, she checked a Farm Toy vendor which was set up across from where we were eating. I took a look after I finish and was amazed at the number of farm toys available. It was getting late (the Expo closed at 5:00 PM) so we needed to push on…

Old Tyme Farming…

The Beef and Dairy Tent was set up at the end of Fifth Street. Attached to it was an Education Tent. Here people could learn about beef and dairy farming. Next to this tent was the Heritage Tent where historical displays had been set up. We walked through the tent looking at all the great exhibits. Just west of this tent there was a plowing field. Teams of horses and their drivers were on the field plowing, each with a different type of plowing apparatus. We watched for quite some time while the drivers and horses worked together to plow row of neat straight lines.
After watching the plowing we turned north. Just to the east of where we were standing were rows of antique tractors. We walk passed the tractors and came to the “A Walk Down Memory Lane” tent. This housed an array of antique carriages, cars, boats, and trucks. Just outside the tent there were more displays. I watched with fascination an old steam driven corn cutter. Built in 1890, it was still in good working order. There were many other displays to investigate including the remainder of the Tackaberry truck collection, so many things to see and so little time. We started back towards our exit. Along the way we passed several stages and tents. This is a great event to attend. It is hard to take in everything in one day. I can see why this is such a popular event both with the rural crowd and us “uneducated” city folk. Our last look of the International Plowing Match grounds was from the hay wagon shuttle. I looked down the hill to the southwest and saw in the distance the mammoth trailer park. What a sight! It brings into focus the tremendous effort required to make this event a reality.

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