If you live in Hastings County you’re probably aware of what I’m about to tell you, but if you don’t, listen up: tomorrow and Thursday (Aug. 21 and 22) are the dates of the 2013 Hastings County Plowing Match. Now, you urban folk will be wondering what I’m on about, so let me tell you: a plowing match is a terrific place to rub shoulders with the folks in your local agricultural community, and to see what they’re up to.
Yes, there are plowing competitions, for both tractors and horses – plowing a perfect furrow is a very fine art – but as I was reading through the special supplements on the big event that graced the two local newspapers when I was at the Manse in Queensborough last weekend, I got the sense that the plowing part of it is kind of an excuse to just have a big old farm-themed get-together. And it sounds like a lot of fun, and I’m very sorry I won’t be there this year (why do they hold it mid-week instead of on a weekend, I wonder?) but hope to be on hand for the 2014 event.
There are always a ton of exhibitors at these things, showing off wares that run the gamut from barn-building materials to farm machinery to pellet stoves to insurance policies and on and on and on. There’ll also be information booths from all sorts of community groups, including Harvest Hastings (an excellent organization that works to promote locally produced foods) and, if I’m not mistaken, the Tweed and Area Heritage Centre. There’ll be kids’ activities and an arts and crafts show and – of course – food!
The only plowing match I’ve ever attended was one that took place a long, long time ago – 1970, in fact, and thank you, internet, for coughing up that fact – in Lindsay, Ont., and it was the International Plowing Match, which was a very big deal. I would have been 10 years old and I don’t remember a single thing about the plowing; it is eminently possible I didn’t even see any of the plowing. What I remember is the huge tent city of exhibitors (many of whom were giving away free samples of exciting stuff like 3-in-One Oil), and the mud. It had been a rainy week leading up to the match, and the field in which it was held was just a sea of deep, sticky mud. I remember my boots getting stuck, so that my sock foot would come out and the empty boot would still be sticking out of the ground. (I guess it was kind of like Glastonbury with tractors.) Anyway, it was fun.
So listen: if you’re casting about for a late-summer activity to keep you busy in the next couple of days, my suggestion to you is to head over Stirling way (here is a map showing where the match takes place, and there’s lots more information here) and get to know a bit more about what’s going on down on the farm.
And into the bargain, you may gain a whole new appreciation for a nice straight furrow. Not to mention a sample-size tin of 3-in-One Oil.