“A time-honoured practice of plowing the soil still has its place in agricultural practices today, and achieving the elusive perfect furrow continues to challenge plowmen and women.” So begins the section called Plowing on the website of the 2016 Hastings County Plowing Match and Farm Show. And I think it’s a good place to begin today’s instalment of Meanwhile, at the Manse.
Why? Well, mainly because this instalment is about the happy fact that the 2016 Hastings County Plowing Match and Farm Show is going to be happening right down the road from Queensborough. That’s going to be more excitement and activity than this neck of the woods has seen in quite some time!
But also because I expect there are some readers – urban folks – who are wondering: “What on earth is a plowing match?” Those readers – and any others who’d like to know more about the contest “to achieve the perfect furrow,” whether with a modern tractor, an antique tractor, or a team of horses, can read lots more here.
I personally am looking forward to watching competitors try to achieve that perfect furrow – and, being the inquisitive journalistic type, to learning through observation of the judges what exactly constitutes “the perfect furrow” in the first place. I may have grown up in a rural setting here in Queensborough, but the fine points of plowing are not something I’m particularly familiar with.
Mainly, though, I am excited that a farm in our little neighbourhood is going to play host to this big event. In recent years, farms in the Stirling area and down south in Tyendinaga Township have been the site of the Hastings plowing match; this time round, the choice is the farm of Don and Angus McKinnon. The McKinnons, father and son, have a fine spread that runs quite a distance along Queensborough Road just west of our village, in Madoc Township. The focus of the event will be Angus’s Cornervue Farms at 2431 Queensborough Rd.
This will be only the second plowing match I’ll have attended in my life, and the first one was a very long time ago – 1970, in fact, the International Plowing Match held in Victoria County (now called Kawartha Lakes). I don’t remember much about that long-ago event, save that there were tons of food and merchandise tents, lots of displays about all manner of farm equipment and products, and so much mud – it rained – that my kid-sized rubber boots would stick in it and my feet would come right out of them when I tried to walk. I had a ball! (And somewhere I probably still have the vintage sample-sized tin of 3-in-One Oil that was one of the giveaways at the merchandise tents.)
County plowing matches are not as big a deal as “international” plowing matches. (I put “international” in quotation marks because I do not believe that there are a lot of competitors from, say, Spain, China or Kenya at those affairs. Here is a fun and nostalgic read about them, though.) But the county matches attract many hundreds of spectators and competitors, and they’re a huge deal on the regional farm scene. They are two days when farmers and farm families take a bit of a break from their toils and get together with their friends and fellow farmers to compare notes, look at new products, shoot the breeze – and, yes, check out that elusive quest for the perfect furrow. In a rural area like this, agricultural events don’t get any bigger.
Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that there will also be lots of good food at this event. Basically when you come to any farm event you are going to be well-fed – but especially in Queensborough, where, as I’ve often reported, we know how to feed people. One of the food tents that will be set up at the plowing match will be run by folks from St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough, Bethesda United Church at White Lake, and St. John’s United Church in Tweed. Our three churches form an informal pastoral charge, and the food tent will be a fundraiser for the work of the churches. As anyone who has ever enjoyed the annual Ham Supper or Turkey Supper at St. Andrew’s knows, the food will be good and plentiful. As regulars at St. Andrew’s, Raymond and I are looking forward to meeting and helping feed all the visitors to the show.
So there you have it, people: two days of your summer all mapped out for you.
Make your plans now to head to 2431 Queensborough Rd. on Wednesday, Aug. 24, and/or Thursday, Aug. 25. Spend the day watching some fine plowing, catching up on all that’s new on the tractor and farm-equipment front, enjoying the activities at the family tent, and of course eating some great food prepared by our church group and other community organizations. At some point take the short (less than five minutes) drive east along Queensborough Road into beautiful “downtown” Queensborough and admire our historic little village on the Black River:
If you’re coming from “away,” you might consider staying overnight in one of the motels, campgrounds or bed and breakfasts that the nearby towns of Madoc and Tweed have to offer, and learning more about this beautiful part of the world that I’m always telling you about.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be the one either serving you up a hamburger – or still trying to figure out what makes one furrow more perfect than another. Come say hello!