Mother Nature showed her love for agriculture during Opening Day of the 2019 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM). Fantastic weather and warm temperatures helped attract throngs of people to take in the day’s many events.
“None of what you’re about to experience this week would be possible without the hard work, dedication and passion of all our volunteers,” said IPM Chair Neil Fox, referring to about 1,200 volunteers.
The day began with a Parade from the settlement of Verner and through Tented City to the Main Stage for the Opening Ceremony. There were 47 entries, including antique tractors, large equipment, community groups and plenty of dignitaries.
“We are extremely proud of what’s happened here and we’re grateful to the people of West Nipissing for welcoming us,” said Sheila Marshall, President of the Ontario Plowmen’s Association, the parent hosts of the IPM. “We are exceedingly proud to see so many people here today.”
This year marks the 102nd IPM. It is held in a different Ontario community each year. This is only the second time it’s been held in Northern Ontario.
As is tradition, provincial party leaders, including Premier Doug Ford, made their way to the IPM for Opening Day.
“(Ontario produce) is some of the best in the world,” said Premier Doug Ford, announcing an upcoming trade mission to South Korea and Japan to focus on agriculture. “I have so much respect for the farmers … your success is our success.”
In addition to the efforts of volunteers, the IPM would not be possible without support from the business community. At the top of that list are Presenting Partners BMO Bank of Montreal, Hydro One and the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association.
“I can’t tell you how proud we are at BMO to be a Partner of the Match,” offered Steve DeMarco, Vice President, Business Banking at BMO Bank of Montreal, referencing the annual BMO Ontario Farm Family Awards, BMO Kid’s Day at the IPM, and the BMO Celebrating Women program.
The BMO Celebrating Women program celebrates women leaders – entrepreneurs, philanthropists and innovators – who are making an impact in their communities.
The BMO Celebrating Women in Agriculture Honoree for 2019 is Janet Parsons. Janet is an integral part of her family farm and, along with her husband, created West Nipissing East Sudbury Agricultural Support Projects Inc, which helps farms gain access to government grants.
“It’s great to be celebrating rural Ontario, the farmers who support our province, our country, our cities,” said Dan Levitan, Director of External Relations, Hydro One. “At Hydro One, we take great pride in powering rural and agricultural Ontario.”
Hydro One builds the electrical grid needed for the IPM, featuring 19 kilometres of power lines and more than 325 polls.
“We’re proud to support the Plowing Match and the communities that work so hard to make it happen,” John Taylor, President of the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association, the crowd gathered in the Main Stage tent. “We’re all in this together.”
Mutuals branches began more than 100 years ago by farmers who banded together to protect their farms and homes.
Among the other dignitaries to attend Opening Day was Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who tried his hand at plowing, alongside the provincial party leaders, for a demonstration event.
Results from each day’s plowing competitions will be posted at www.plowingmatch.org/daily/1-1.php once they’ve been tallied.
A couple changes to IPM 2019 people should know about:
• The Main Stage headline performer for Saturday (Sept. 22) afternoon has changed. Be sure to catch Boots and Hearts 2019 Emerging Showcase runner-up Justin Tyler at 4:30 p.m.
• The location for the Antique tractor plowing has changed. You can jump on a free shuttle ride to the competition field at Gate 1. The location for Horse Plowing has not changed; shuttles will pick people up and drop them off at Gate 4.
Wednesday at the IPM:
Don’t miss the Canadian Cowgirls precision drill team at the RAM Rodeo Ring, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. The rodeo ring is also home to Off Kilter Trick Riding and Roping, with performances at noon and 3 p.m.
The BMO Plowing Competition gets underway at 9:30 and 11 a.m. with Horse Plowing at 10 a.m.
Skyhawks Canadian Armed Forces parachute team will put on a demonstration above Tented City between noon and 12:30 pm though the precise timing depends on several environmental factors.
The West Coast Lumberjack Show, located in Tent 3A (near Service Road 3 and West Nipissing Avenue), will have performances at 10 a.m. as well as 1:30 and 3 p.m.
There’s live music happening on the Main Stage, Ontario Mutuals Stage and in the Final Furrow Lounge at beginning at various times throughout the day, along with presentations in the Lifestyles Tent from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Shania Live, a Shania Twain tribute concert, takes to the Main Stage at 2 p.m.
Be sure to check out the Antique and Historical displays, including several antique equipment demonstrations throughout the day.
There’s lots of hands-on activities taking place throughout the day at the Hydro One Education Centre.
The first of two special Evening Performances will take place at the Earl’s RV Park Entertainment Tent – separate ticketing for this event – beginning at 7 p.m. Stommper Taw Connors, son of Canadian Legend Stomping Tom Connors, will perform a tribute show to his father beginning at 8:15 p.m. Tickets cost $20 each (limited quantity).