International Plowing Match kicks off in Minto

The 2016 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo is finally here.

Chair Ron Faulkner declared the match officially open at the opening ceremonies on Sept 20.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am that this day has arrived,” he said.

Faulkner thanked all the visitors for coming out to the enormous tented city located south of Harriston in the Town of Minto.

Wellington County Warden and Minto Mayor George Bridge added he was grateful to all of the volunteers who dedicated their time to make the IPM successful.

Bridge also thanked Earl and Anne Schneider, the hosts of the IPM.

Earl, who spoke later, said the volunteers and organizers deserve all the credit for the IPM.

Faulkner and the IPM board welcomed dignitaries such as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, PC leader Patrick Brown and NDP leader Andrea Horwarth. The legislature was closed for two days so members of parlaiment could have an opportunity to take in the IPM.

“I’m my opinion there are two stewards of the land,” said Wynne.

“The indigenous people and our farmers are the two stewards of the land in this country and in this province.”

She explained agriculture in Ontario is a $34-billion industry with over 740,000 people employed. She added the government wants to work with farmers to keep costs down.

“Despite some of the divisions that people would like to put in place, we are one Ontario, we depend on each other. Our lives are integrated,” said Wynne.

Brown used his time to reaffirm that the PC party understands and respects farmers.

“The plowing match reinforces the importance of our rural and farm organizations that are there for the benefit of all, in good times and bad,” he said.

“I want to ensure you that we will continue to do what we can to offer the appropriate assistance.”

Horwath spoke about the important for future generations.

“The next generation deserves a great future in rural Ontario and it’s up to us to make sure that all of your kids and grand kids have real opportunity, have the opportunity that they need, right here in our rural communities,” she said.

Other speakers during the opening ceremonies included Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott; Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong; Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal; Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sports Eleanor McMahon; Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece, Perth-Wellington MP John Nater and Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, among others.

Spanning over 1,200 acres, the IPM offers more than 500 exhibitors and many events during the week-long match. Attendance is expected to surpass 80,000 visitors.