STORMONT, DUNDAS &GLENGARRY -- In the countdown to Stormont Dundas and Glengarry's 2015 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM) in Finch, organizers are determined to give people everything they expect of an IPM as well as distinctive insight into what the region is all about.
"Yes, there will be dancing tractors," says Finch IPM chairman Jim Brownell in a recent interview, but visitors to the United Counties IPM a year from now can expect a number of events and features unique to SD&G.
Plowing match favourites like the horses and antique tractor plowing, and the quilt show will of course be a big part of the 2015 event in Finch. However, a great effort is being made to take advantage of this opportunity to highlight the three United Counties, says Brownell.
But never fear, the wildly entertaining and popular dancing tractors will be at Finch. "It's the funniest thing to see," he says, of the square dance-inspired choreographed antique tractors and costumes. "People are always asking about that."
Bringing the agricultural, historical and cultural nature of the region to the match is an important part of the planning. Organizers want to showcase local performers and hope to offer First Nations dancers, Celtic music and Oktoberfest entertainment at the Finch match.
Also unique to the SDG plowing match and approved in principle by the OPA, will be an attempt to break a Guinness World Record. Current record holders in Langenburg, Saskatchewan operated 41 antique threshing machines simultaneously for 15 minutes in 2013. "That event would be a fantastic feature," Brownell says, truly agricultural and an excellent way to contribute, as a rural host, to the educational component of the event by showing the urban and non-farming community how it was once done.
Organizers are also looking into hosting an auctioneers competition. "That is still on the books," he says, of an event that would showcase a profession deeply rooted in the agricultural community.
The 2015 IPM raffle will also have a regional flavour. First prize is an Ottawa Senators' trip to the Barbados for two in January 2016, which includes airfare, resort accommodations and several excursions including a catamaran junket sponsored by Winchester Travel. The second prize is two nights' accommodation at the Upper Canada Guest House for two with golf, village admission and dinner at Willard's hotel. The third place package, also for two, is accommodations at the Best Western in Cornwall and admission to both Glengarry Highland Games and the Friday night Tattoo.
The raffle tickets will be ready to sell when a large delegation heads out to the 2014 match in Ivy, Simcoe County, in late Sept., says Brownell. Volunteers are geared up for this as it is a very important trip for the SDG organizers who will, not only be manning a booth inviting visitors to come down to SDG in 2015, but for directors and committee members to study what their counterparts have done and how they've done it. Brownell expects the delegation to come back very enthusiastic and prepared to tackle the work in front of them over the next year.
The 2015 match may well be the biggest event ever staged in the three United Counties, similar in scale perhaps to the Glengarry Highland Games times five. In terms of numbers, Brownell compares daily visitors to the plowing match to the Sat. crowds at the games.
With 20,000 to 25,000 visitors expected each day, the Finch IPM will require upwards of 1,100 volunteers. As well as developing their volunteer base, much has already been done. The IPM cookbook, an important fundraising tool, was completed late last fall and widely available across the counties. Perhaps the most immediate task at hand is signage, he says, both at the event site and strategic roads leading to it.
But, the team may very well be ahead of the game in planning the event with about 70 directors, committee chairs and co-chairs and upwards of 400 volunteers already hard at work. "Certainly the Ontario Plowmen's Association members who come out to our meetings seem pleased with the progress we're making," said Brownell. "Everyone's pulling in the right direction."