The unveiling of a massive sign and a commemorative tree planting on May 14 launched the countdown to the 2016 International Plowing Match (IPM), which will be held south of Harriston.
“It’s going to be an exciting time for Minto and Wellington County,” said Minto deputy mayor Ron Faulkner, chair of the 2016 IPM committee. “We are showcasing local food and local business.”
Faulkner recounted the history of the IPM in Wellington, noting 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the first time the match was hosted by the county at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph.
The match was held near Guelph again on the farm of Jack M. Gilchrist in 1968. The 2000 match was held at Elora, hosted by Lewis and Mae Day and Morris Day, Ervin G. Musselman and neighbouring farms. In 1984, the IPM was held near Teviotdale on the farms of J.D. Ross and Nelson South, just a few miles north of the 2016 site.
Minto Mayor and Wellington County Warden George Bridge also stressed the historical connections of both Wellington County and Minto to the IPM, noting his father Milt Bridge was a member of Wellington County council when the ‘84 match was held here.
“It’s great to see it coming back here after all these years,” said Bridge. “It’s really going to put Wellington County and the Town of Minto on the map again.”
Bridge commented he was looking forward to plowing against Mapleton Mayor Neil Driscoll in the traditional competition for local politicians held in connection with IPMs.
“It won’t be a competition,” quipped Driscoll in response.
Ontario Plowman’s Association president Guy Leduc said he was “really pleased to be down in Wellington County,” for the launch. “You’ve got a nice piece of land here, it’s really terrific and we are really looking forward to working with you guys,” said Leduc.
The 2016 event will be held on about 400 acres on the farm of Anne and Earl Schneider from Sept. 20 to 24. Their daughter-in-law Debbie Schneider said the family has planned recent plantings in order to have the fields ready for the IPM and “are really proud to be a part of it.”
An IPM draws tens of thousands of people (over 70,000 attended the 2015 match in Simcoe County) and requires an army of volunteers.
John Burgess and Wendy Lockwood are co-chairing the volunteer committee and Burgess said close to 400 volunteers are already active, with up to 1,500 needed by the time the match is held.
The IPM website www.plowingmatch.org contains information on volunteering and an application form.