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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Farmers show precision during annual plowing match

by Sylene Argent

Many area farmers, and out-of-town competitors, enjoyed perfect weather on Saturday as they demonstrate their in-field skills during the annual Essex County Plowmen’s Association Plowing Match.

  The event had an overall great turnout of competitors, who not only competed for local trophies, which were handed out during the annual dinner hosted later that night inside the Shaheen Community Room at the Essex Centre Sports Complex, but also tried to earn enough points to compete at this fall’s International Plowing Match.

  With all of the rain experienced this spring, many farmers turned over their wheat fields and planted different crops, so there was a bit of a panic leading up to the event as to whether or not a wheat field would be located for this year’s event. Fortunately, the Anger family’s Colchester Farms offered a wheat field for the event.

  The round bales of straw were still in the field a week prior to the event when Essex County Plowmen’s Association Secretary/Treasurer Murray McLeod and his son headed out the field to mark out the competition plots for each of the participants. Usually, there are around three weeks between the straw being baled and the show, he noted.

  McLeod estimated this year’s competition participation was up from last year, which was also up from previous years. He figures the great attendance is due to Essex County’s match-up being the first and, as such, attracts may out-of-town competitions. This year’s show had around 20 farmers come in to compete from areas like Strathroy, Kent County, Mount Brydges, and Hagersville.

  This year’s event attracted just one team of horses. The Percheron duo of Bob and Bill was driven by Mount Forest farmer, Russell Rogers, who has been perfecting this craft for the past six-years.

  Rogers said he began using horses to plow at the completion because he joyed the laid-back atmosphere, the congeniality of fellow competitors, and wanted a new challenge as a long-time operator of machinery.

  Since learning to drive a team of plow horses, Rogers has enjoyed the less stressful means of competition.

  Though McLeod was pleased with the number of competitors the event attracted this year, he would like to see more spectators in the future. The event even offered a tractor-drawn wagon ride around the competition grounds for spectators to enjoy.

  McLeod was grateful to BMO for being a major sponsor of the plowing match.


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