Lanark County Plowing Match returns ahead of International event coming to Kemptville in September
In advance of an international event coming to eastern Ontario next month, farmers from around the region showed of their skills at the Lanark County Plowing Match for the first time since 2019.
"It's so great to see the young kids out here on the tractors," Montague Township Reeve Bill Dobson said. "It's extremely important to pass all that information on to the next generation."
Multiple classes were on hand with competitors collecting points for certain skills, like straightness of furrow and covering the land so no grass is showing.
"At the end of the day, he with the most points, or she, is the top dog," said Steve Lowry, Lanark County Plowmen's Association President.
Ontario Queen of the Furrow, Anna Lennox, also made an appearance, to promote the International Plowing Match (IPM) scheduled for September in Kemptville.
It's the largest celebration of agriculture and rural living in North America, celebrating 103 years in 2022.
"Tens of thousands of people will be there. A lot of unique vendors, exhibits and things to see and do, so certainly bring your families, it's definitely a family friendly event," Lennox said.
Farmer Ken Clarke made the nearly four hour drive from Beaverton with his vintage Oliver 77 Standard tractor to compete on Saturday, a winner in the antique class at the 2019 IPM.
"Everybody can't wait to get going again because this is a farmer's hobby," he smiled. "Everybody goes out and mingles, visits, the camaraderie, what's your farm like, what's our farm like, crops, a farmer thing, you know? How are different areas of Ontario doing compared to others?"
It is a welcoming environment, even if you didn't grow up on a farm. The Plowmen's Association says it is always looking to get more young people involved with the hobby.
"The 4H plowing is open to any young person between 12 and 18 if they would like to plow," said Lowry. "It doesn't matter if they come from Kanata or Stittsville, if they want to join 4H and learn how to do this, everybody's welcome."
"It's passing on that knowledge to people from the city, we want people to learn about where food comes from," added Dobson.
"For me, when it comes to the plowing matches, this is our way to preserve our cultural agricultural heritage," he added. "It's extremely important, and I know that we have a pretty passionate group of people here, and it's their mandate to pass on the information to young people."
The upcoming IPM is a five-day event being held just south of the Kemptville Campus from Sept. 20-24.
"It's honestly such and incredible opportunity to involve people who are not necessarily born or raised in an ag community," said Lennox. "There are lots of people within the Ag community who didn't grow up on a farm but have chosen to pursue it, and the fact of the matter is farmers are feeding cities and farmers are an incredibly important part of Ontario and Canada."
"Come on out and ask questions," she added. "No one's going to worry if you don't know what's going on and everyone around here is just thrilled to share what they know about farming whether it be about plowing or whether it be about the operation they have back home."
"It's a community event," Dobson agreed. "It allows people to come together who have sort of like minded interests and talk about not just the old times, but what it could be like in the future."
Clarke, who runs a dairy farm back in Beaverton, says it is the perfect opportunity to see how farms work and what goes into producing the food we consume.
"Visit with the farmers, don't be afraid to ask questions," he said. "We take care of the land so the land will take care of us, and without farmers you have no food. We pride ourselves in quality food. Dairy farmers, beef farmers, cash croppers, all of us."
Other smaller plowing matches are also scheduled in eastern Ontario in the fall, including the Ottawa-Carleton Match in Ashton on Aug. 27, and the Stormont County Plowing Match on Oct. 8.
"Come out and support a local plowing match near you and come out and enjoy the International Plowing Match in Kemptville," added Lowry, noting the last time the IPM was in this region was in Finch in 2015.
"The IPM is a place to learn even more about agriculture for people from the city," he said. "They have a lot more vendors, a lot more education displays and people there just to answer questions anybody might have that want to know about what we do."