Local plowman Carman Weppler turned in the best performance by a Canadian in world competition in more than two decades, earlier this month.
Weppler, who farms near Clifford, represented Canada at the World Plowing Competition in Denmark on Oct. 3 and 4.
The Minto resident qualified for the global event by placing first in the Senior Conventional Plow class at the CanPlow2014 competition.
In Denmark, he competed in the conventional category, placing sixth plowing on stubble. Weppler also finished 21st in grassland plowing to end up 17th overall. He noted the sixth place finish is “the best Canada’s done for numerous years on stubble, or any land for that matter.”
Weppler noted his coach, Daryl Hostrawser of Belwood, recorded a seventh place finish in the world event in Iowa in 1988.
“To my knowledge sixth is the best for numerous years,” he said.
Weppler knew he would be facing tough competition overseas, where expert plowmen have status approaching that of professional athletes in North America. He points out the hometown Danish competitor in the conventional category, Jens Iversen, was using a plow featuring more than $100,000 worth of modifications.
“The plow I used was the Canadian plow and it’s essentially stock,” he explained.
Equipment aside, “you still have to plow,” said Weppler, pointing out his sixth place finish put him ahead of Iversen, who ranked 11th on stubble land.
Weppler had been anticipating a tough go on the grass in Denmark.
“They plowed in a rye grass sod and you very rarely, if ever, get that over here.”
Also, competition organizers lost track of a booking of land for extra practice plowing by Canadian officials, so Weppler’s practice, beyond the official practice plots allotted all competitors, was limited to a couple of sessions on stubble.
The competition in Denmark drew fare more attention than such events do in Canada, said Weppler, noting crowds lined the field “six or seven deep” with youngsters hoisted on shoulders to watch.
“You never see that here.”
An example of the “extreme interest” in plowing overseas was the attendance at the Republic of Ireland national match, held a few weeks before the world competition.
“The Irish match had over 281,000 visitors, the biggest on record,” said Weppler.
Outside of competition, Weppler joined other participants in two days of planned excursions in Denmark which included touring a lighthouse, a 950-cow dairy farm, and a trip to the northern tip of Denmark, where the Black Sea meets the North Sea.
“It was quite an amazing thing,” said Weppler, adding that the Danish people were “extremely hospitable.”
Because he was in Denmark when the 2015 IPM in Finch, Ontario began, Weppler didn’t compete for the Canadian title this year.
However, he plans to compete on home turf at next year’s IPM in Minto, where a strong showing would qualify him for the Canadian championships in 2017. A win there would put Weppler back on the world stage in time for the 2018 Match in Germany. The following year, the match will be in the U.S.
“If I could get down there, that would be cool too,” he said. No matter where the plowing is being done, Weppler is now confident he can till with the best.
“There’s little bit of luck involved too – and a lot of praying – and you can go a long way,” he said.
Editor’s note: Weppler is featured on the Advertiser’s 2016 calendar, now available at the paper’s Fergus office.