It’s a whole lot of country when the International Plowing Match & Rural Expo comes to town.
The 101st annual show returns to Simcoe County to tiny Ivy, Ont., southwest of Barrie, from Sept. 16 to 20, 2014.
The tractor roundup during the opening ceremonies features Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne on a red machine, a blue one suits Progressive Conservative interim leader Jim Wilson while New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath opts for orange.
This expo is the Olympics of farming, with this year’s theme Good Old Days and Modern New Ways.
It provides an opportunity for city dwellers to learn more about their rural counterparts and their way of life, organizers say.
As one of the largest outdoor shows in the country, it features country folk, horses, tractors and exhibitors, country music and a tented city with some 100,000 visitors expected to attend the five-day show.
The Ontario Plowmen’s Association is hosting the event on Barry and Ivan DeGeer’s farm in partnership with the Essa and District Agricultural Society and its adjacent Agriplex.
A city will spring up with streets for pedestrian traffic, tents and an RV park with 1,500 sites all powered by electricity, only to suddenly disappear and return to farmland afterwards.
As its name says, the focus is on plowing competitions with contestants using horses, mules and tractors to plow fields.
The competition is judged on straightness of the furrow, uniformity, how well the ground was turned and the general appearance.
Other activities include tractor events, a fashion show, cooking demonstrations, lumberjack show, historic displays and demonstrations, with the “Queen of the Furrow” reigning over the festivities.
There will be some 500 exhibitors and vendors and the tented city will stretch over 40.4 hectares.
Agricultural themed events range from antiques to the latest technology, along with environmental, educational and rural living displays, and daily entertainment on multiple stages.
Find your way through the plow-shaped labyrinth inspired by the single furrow plows of yesteryear that will take about 20 minutes to walk through.
Activities begin with a parade on Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. with Olympic gold medal curler Jennifer Jones the marshal. The parade includes the OPP Golden Helmets Motorcycle Precision Team followed by the opening ceremonies at noon.
Country boy Jason McCoy will perform on Sept. 20 while rock-n-rollers the Martels from Midland sing the oldies several times during the expo.
The RAM Rodeo Tour includes bronco riding, roping competitions, barrel racing and ladies breakaway roping as well as trick riding and rodeo clowns.
The 28 Canadian Cowgirls from Chatham-Kent ride daily with a musical performance of “precision riding, stunning costumes and dangerous and daring manoeuvres.”
The Dancing Tractor show features eight Farmall row crop tractors with narrowly spaced front wheels that “dance” to traditional square dance music lead by a caller.
Simcoe County Warden Cal Patterson said the event “showcases our region to the world,” with its rich agricultural heritage.
NEED TO KNOW
The plowing match runs from Sept. 16 to 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in Ivy at the 20th Side Road and 10th Line of Essa across from the Agriplex. The address is: 4715 Side Road 20, RR 3, Thornton, ON. Admission is $17, ages 16 plus; $5, six to 15 (free on Kid’s Day, Sept. 20); and $40 for a family pass (two adults, two children). plowingmatch.org.