A colourful crowd came out to the 2019 Wellington County Plowing Match in Mapleton August 15.
Participants competed in tractor, antique tractor, and horse-drawn classes at Neil and Barb Driscoll’s family farm on Sideroad 12. There were special classes for local mayors and councillors, another for OPP officers and their spouses, and another for Wellington County 4-H members. The event drew in some 100 spectators throughout the course of the day.
“The highest mark we had all day was 143 from Carmen Weppler,” said Carol Day, secretary/treasurer at the Wellington County Plowmen’s Association. “He actually represented Canada a couple of years ago in world plowing.”
Thirty-four participants put their skills to the test. Most classes are judged on five criteria: opening furrow, crown, connecting furrow, finish, as well as overall work and appearance.
“The competitors have to get 120 points at a local branch match somewhere throughout the year in order to qualify for the international,” explained Day.
The 2019 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo will take place in Verner, West Nipissing in mid-September. Several contestants qualified for this competition already following this match, including Weppler, Doug MacRobbie with 130, John DeKroon at 125, Ben Henderson scoring 125, Allison Davenport at 128, Kody Vandervene with 127, Cole and Austin Brodhaecker at 142 and 127.5.
Other qualifiers include Richard Augustine at 134, Joey Parkinson finishing 129, Dennis Royle scoring 127, Keith Robinson getting 125, Ken O’Brien at 124, Tom Thede with 121, Mike Lassam at 137, Tommy Kyle finishing 126.5, Ian Break at 121, and Mackenzie Reinhart with 143.
Judging begins with the opening split. There must be an opening split in both stubble and grassland, and be well cut through. Contestants are also judged on their crown, which is the furrow slices following the opening split. Judges look for features such as straightness, and conformity and uniformity.
“General work is how well they cover the grass,” explained Day. “Are they packing the soil closely with no holes? Is it firm? Did they get deep enough to actually have good soil available to cover things?”
Next, competitors are evaluated on their finish – the remaining furrows, as well as the general appearance. Winning plows include straightness, distinctive furrows, neat and tidy overall appearance, and the relationship of the crown to finish.
They can also receive scratches or penalties when things go wrong – for instance, Ian Mullins scratched due to equipment failure.
The competition day saw plowmen from far and wide come out, including Orillia, Toronto, Cambridge and beyond. Great weather and lunch served by Peg Schieck and those from the Wellington United Church made the day a memorable one.
There were two contestants for the Queen of the Furrow title, Tate Driscoll from Moorefield, and Sydnee Stewart of Arthur.
“Part of the competition requirements for Queen of the Furrow is the girls have to do the plowing portion, and then in the fall, we have our awards banquet where they do a speech component and a private question period with the judges regarding agricultural interest.”