They came, they saw, they plowed, they ate

Vintage tractors at the Plowing Match

What a plowing match is all about: participants in the antique-tractor competition try to make the straightest and best furrow.

I expect it will be a long time before Queensborough again experiences the bustle and traffic that we had this past week. Thanks to the Hastings County Plowing Match and Farm Show being held on the McKinnon family’s farm a couple of miles west of us, there was just a constant stream of traffic through our little hamlet. Such excitement! I haven’t yet heard a final tally of visitors to the event, but it is safe to say that many thousands of people showed up to take in the plowing competitions and to visit the wide array of booths and displays, many of them featuring huge and impressive pieces of farm equipment.

In last week’s post I gave you an advance look at the Plowing Match; this week I thought I’d share some images of it, both to commemorate this big event in Queensborough’s history, and to give those of you who couldn’t visit a taste of what it was like. So here goes – your own personal tour of the 2016 Hastings County Plowing Match and Farm Show, guided by yours truly.

To the plowing match 2

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, and Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, all roads led to Queensborough.

Full parking lot at the plowing match

The visitor parking lot was full both days. On the morning of the first day, traffic was backed up half a mile or so as visitors waited to get through the gates.

Angus at the eastern entrance

Angus McKinnon – who, with his father, Don, was the host of the show – greets visitors coming in through the exhibitors’ gate. The all-terrain vehicle came in handy as Angus kept an eye on the proceedings all over the expansive site.

Big farm equipment

Giant-size farm machinery on display.

Big farm equipment

More giant-size equipment. Very impressive!

Vintage garden tractors

And then there was some considerably smaller equipment, like these cute vintage lawn tractors.

Guess the number of cans

A farm field transformed into rows and rows of displays. The one in the foreground, by Quinte Waste Solutions (the local recycling company), invited passersby to guess the number of recycled cans in the big compressed bale. I never did hear what the correct total was, though.

Shopping at the plowing match

There were opportunities for shopping, including for clothes…

Jewelry booth at the plowing match

… and jewelry …

Shiny red truck at plowing match

… and shiny red trucks! I think this one from Doug Hunter Ford in Madoc has Raymond’s name on it.

Harold Ramsay & Sons at the Plowing Match

There were displays by local companies providing farm-related services, like Queensborough’s Harold Ramsay & Sons Trucking and Excavating

Elaine talks about "Historic Queensboro"

… and talks by guest speakers in the Family Tent. Here, the Queensborough Community Centre’s Elaine Kapusta tells visitors about historic Queensborough.

The gang at the QCC booth

The Queensborough Community Centre booth, where we sold Queensborough-themed baseball caps, mugs and cutting boards, as well as Queensborough walking-tour booklets. (Still available if you contact me!) There was also a ton of historical information about our hamlet on display. The QCC volunteers (standing, from left): Raymond Brassard, Dave DeLang (unofficial official photographer of Queensborough events), Ludwik Kapusta, Ann Brooks, Barb Ramsay, Joanie Harrison Sims, Elaine Kapusta and Frank Brooks; (seated, from left) Stephanie Sims, Susanna Sims and Tyler Walker. Good job, guys!

Baker Farms Charolais cattle

There was livestock, including these Charolais cattle from Baker Farms on Hunt Club Road just outside Queensborough.

Vintage tractors on parade

On both afternoons of the match there was a parade of vintage tractors, one of my favourite parts of the whole event.

Now, there were all kinds of things that I didn’t get to – like most of the plowing, including the competitions for horses and mules, and for young people, and for modern tractors (as opposed to the nifty antique ones that you saw in my photo at the top of the post). I didn’t get to see any of the Queen of the Furrow events (the plowing competition or the speeches). I missed out on most of the speakers at the Family Tent, and was particularly sorry not to hear Cheryl and Brad Freeman of the stupendously great Hidden Goldmine Bakery in Madoc talk about how they’d built their business. I didn’t have time to stop and estimate the number of recycled squashed cans in the giant cube at the Quinte Waste Solutions booth. I missed the fashion shows. Why did I miss out on all that good stuff? Because I was helping feed the masses!

Serving food at the Three United Churches tent

There was lots of bustle behind the counters at the Three United Churches (St. Andrew’s, Queensborough; Bethesda, White Lake; and St. John’s, Tweed) as we served up barbecued burgers and hot dogs, Amish doughnuts, and tons of homemade pie.

Pies at the church food tent

Did I mention tons of homemade pie? And we sold every last slice!

Lineup at the Three United Churches food tent

Lineups at our food tent were pretty steady, especially between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. But thanks to a well-organized ordering and cooking system (for which I can take no credit whatsoever), the line moved very quickly.

Enjoying the food at the Three United Churches tent

Diners enjoying the food at our tent’s seating area.

My condiment table

My assigned task for the two days at the food tent was the condiment table: keeping it stocked and tidy. You know how condiment tables are all too often – at food trucks and fall fairs and even Costco – a rather gross mess? I was determined this would not be the case at the Three United Churches tent. And hey – have you ever seen such a pristine condiment table?

Busy condiment table

My condiment table in full use.

I have to tell you: Queensborough has seemed pretty quiet in the three days since the Plowing Match ended. Raymond drove by the site late yesterday and reported that, with the exception of a few pieces of farm equipment, the tent city and displays (and banks of portapotties) had completely disappeared, and Cornervue Farms once again looked like a collection of quiet, tidy farm fields. It’s a little sad that it’s all over.

But I’m pretty sure everyone involved had a great time, and it will stand as a landmark event in our rural area’s history. The McKinnons proudly showed that a very successful agricultural event could be held North of 7.

So I have one more photo to show you, the last one I took at the close of the match on Thursday afternoon. I was aiming to show the sign and loudspeakers perched high atop the Headquarters Tent that was the nerve centre of the event. But as I’m sure you’ll notice right away, my camera (my phone, of course) caught something else in the sky too:

Clouds at the end of the show

That’s one unusual cloud formation, wouldn’t you say? Do you think it might be a sign, or a portent? I like to think so. It kind of looks like a heart in the process of being formed. Or two arms coming together to enclose someone in a hug. So maybe the message from the skies over Queensborough is: “We loved your visit – please come back soon!”

20 thoughts on “They came, they saw, they plowed, they ate

  1. Hey Katherine….great tales and pix from the Plowing Match. I spent some time at one in Leeds last weekend, and a Calf Rally (4-H) this weekend – such great events with deep community roots. I hear I might see you in Alvinston! Say hi to Elaine 🙂

    • Hi Liz – yes, you will indeed see me in Alvinston, Ont., and I will pass on your greetings to Elaine. As for plowing matches and calf rallies, it is good for the rural soul to spend time at such traditional events. Next up for me: the Madoc Fair Sept. 16 to 18. There will be horse pulls!

  2. That was excellent, Katherine. You showed so well what went on at the Plowing Match in Queensborough. And, never has there been a better condiment table! Goosebumps for me at the very last picture. Thanks a lot, aye.

  3. Thanks Katherine for your wonderful report and pictures of the Plowing Match, next best thing to being there. Your condiment table would have been a treat to fix up ones burgers or hot dogs as, like you said, most times they are pretty messy.

  4. 49 years in Canada and never been to a plowing match. My bad. Your excellent report and pictures made me feel I was there. Thanks, Katherine. My best to Ray.
    -John Gibson, Ancaster, Ontario

    • John, it’s never too late! I was very interested to learn, though (in the course of discussions with some farm writers at the plowing match), that the Hastings County one is pretty much unequalled throughout the province. Time was, I believe, when every county had one. I’m please that my own county has held on to the tradition. You should come next year! Thanks for your kind words, and I have passed on your greetings to Raymond.

  5. So sorry to have to miss this, but it was wonderful to see you and Raymond afterwards. Hope the back-to-school thing goes well!

    • Thanks so much, Sandra. It was a bit of a shock today, going from the aftermath of the plowing match back into a school office and having to think about timetables and orientation events and such – a lot different from serving up pie in the sunshine. But it’s all good!

  6. A wonderful post this week Katherine. One would think you had a career in journalism somewhere along the line from Queensborough and back! If you don’t mind I’ll skip the condiment table and go right to that spread of yummy pie slices. Raymond assures me there’s somewhere in there a sugar-free pie, but if there isn’t I would have ignored my diet and had a slice (or two) of the regular version. I’m really glad everything went so well on the former Kincaid lands, and wish that in the summer I lived closer so that I could get to your part of the province without a long drive on the 401. Instead I went to the Zurich Bean Festival, which is fun but doesn’t hold a candle to a plowing match.

    • A bean festival – wow! I think you should write about it, Keith. Meanwhile, thank you for your kind words about my Plowing Match post. I really felt a responsibility to try to capture what it was like for those, like you, who couldn’t be there.

  7. Thanks for posting pictures of the ploughing match. Those homemade pies look sooo delicious. That was the cleanest condiment table I have ever seen. Thank the other ladies that worked so hard also.

    • I will certainly do that, Betty! While I was proud of my condiment-table work, many of the other women (and men) worked much, much harder – especially in pie-baking, but also barbecuing for hours on end in the hot sun. All in a good cause!

  8. Hi Katherine,

    Thanks for the wonderful photos and the terrific write-up about the big event. I’m sure it was very interesting, and something that so many people looked forward to seeing (and participating in events.) Those pies look amazing (it’s little wonder you sold all of the slices), and on the table with condiments, do I see a pair of vintage Tupperware salt & pepper shakers?

    • Sash, you are eagle-eyed! In fact there were not one but two sets of tall vintage Tupperware salt and pepper shakers on our condiment table. Very sadly, they are not mine; they were the loan of two members of the church. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that we had a set just like them when I was growing up here at the Manse – because, well, didn’t everyone have a set back then? I’m tickled that some people still do, and determined to find some of my own. Their extra-large size made them very useful as dozens and dozens of people per hour salted and peppered their burgers!

      • Oh, my goodness? TWO sets of vintage tall Tupperware salt & pepper shakers? I haven’t seen those in years. One of the great features about them is the “snap” lid, which everybody thought was so handy for taking on picnics. It meant the salt and pepper never got shaken out of the shakers when they were jostled around in the car. Well, it sounds like it was a terrific weekend, and when I read your earlier article promoting it, and when you mentioned the Rock Festival, it was then that I realized that the Rock Festival was the last time I was in Queensborough. Where have the years gone?

  9. Excellent story and photos of the match. Thanks for posting it. It was a great week around the Mckinnon farm!

    • Trish and Angus, thank you to YOU folks (along with Don, of course) for putting on a terrific plowing match. I can only imagine how much work it has been over the past many months. You folks did Queensborough proud! And it was so great to have you and all the McKinnon clan for lunch at our tent on Thursday. What a fantastic two days!

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