International Plowing Match: Past and Present
Have you ever attended a plowing match?
In 1999, I attended the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM) in Dashwood, Ontario along with tens of thousands of visitors. It was quite spectacular! This year's event is being held in Chatham-Kent near Pain Court, Ontario. It runs September 18-22.
It's not just about plowing furrows either! At the International Plowing Match you can check out square dancing tractors, the "Future of Farming" tent, music, art, antiques and even Guinness World Record attempts.
Origin and Vintage Images
In 1911, a group of plowmen local to York fully conceived of The International Plowing Match. The first two International Matches in 1913 and 1914 were situated on Sunnybrook Farm, Toronto, York County. Since then, it has been hosted across Ontario. (Here's a list of communities that have previously held the Match and Rural Expo.) Getting to host the match is a boon for rural communities. The 2018 match will mark the third time Chatham-Kent has been the host. It hosted in 1919 and again in 1979.
Due to World War Two the International Plowing Match did not take place from 1942-1945. The first match after the war was held in 1946 at an airfield in Goderich, Ontario .
- Check out more of our images from Toronto Public Library's Digital Archive — they are part of the Toronto Star Photograph Archive
- The Ontario Plowmen's Association has an archive of International Plowing Match posters (they're gorgeous!)
- Chatham-Kent Municipal Museums Digital Collection has great photos of past events
- Better understand the competitions by exploring the records of past winners on the Ontario Plowmen's Association's site
Ontario's agricultural history is long and rich. (You can also explore this topic in Toronto Public Library's Digital Archive!) The International Plowing Match is an opportunity to experience some of it. If you're looking for an overnight road trip destination at the end of summer, I'd recommend a trip to Pain Court, Ontario to visit the 2018 International Plowing Match Festivities.
And for those who want to get a feel for the nitty-gritty rules for the competitions, look no further than this excerpt from the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo 2018 Rules and Regulations:
a) In the Horse Classes for one-furrow plows, the crown shall consist of six (6) heavy rounds (12 furrows), after which the contestant shall cast off. Horse plowing will be judged out of 180 points.
b) In Tractor Classes, the Crown shall consist of four heavy rounds for two furrow plows and three heavy rounds for three or more furrow plows after which the contestant shall commence to cast off. When lands are too narrow to permit the application of this definition, same may be modified by the Steward in charge of the class. (Contestants in Class 4 will plow a larger lot if land is available)
c) A double scratch will be allowed but rule 14 (i) will apply.