Notes from the Farmer’s Daughter – Interesting Displays Made for a Great Day at the International Plowing Match

Last Friday, I set aside an afternoon to explore the International Plowing Match in Kemptville. The five-day event saw some unfavourable weather with rain early on and some cooler temperatures for Friday, blowing throughout the tented city. However, that didn’t stop the thousands of visitors, like myself, who travelled to Kemptville to experience the “Community Showcase of Agricultural & Rural Living: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.”

With so much to see and do, it was hard to know where to go first. Tack’s Toys, a display of antique trucks, tractors and equipment from G. Tackaberry & Sons Construction from Athens, caught my eye as I stepped off the hay wagon shuttle and onto the expansive grounds. Perhaps my fondness for owner George and his family or the shiny red vehicles drew me in. Either way, I was happy to wander among the impressive display, saying a quick hello to George as other antique enthusiasts filled a line to speak with the well-known businessman.

From there, I meandered through tents, stopping to talk with vendors and artisans that intrigued me with their offerings. I was delighted to come across author Grace Vanderzande. She was there with her publisher to introduce her new book, “Unbuttoned” a collection of stories of her farming life in Southeastern Ontario. I couldn’t pass up making that my purchase of the day, a small gift for myself and perhaps inspiration to publish my own book one day.

Artist Laurie Sponagle of Artfully Recycled from Mallorytown was set up nearby with her colourful and creative wooden flowers. The eye-catching colours and whimsical designs were a welcome sight and indeed serve to brighten any spot they are displayed. Laurie’s creations are made with care from recycled materials and high-quality paints. I spoke with Laurie and asked her if she would consider making some custom wooden daisies from the lath that we have pulled from our renovation project “Daisy May.”

From tents to outdoors, I made my way to the stands where I could hear the Canadian Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team entrance being announced. I watched in awe as a trick rider and her four-legged companion entertained the crowd. The daring maneuvers included one with the rider’s head mere inches from the ground while circling the ring at speeds that raised a cloud of dust to rise from the heavy hooves of her partner, sending a thrill of excitement through the crowd.  

Knowing my time at the match was limited, I had to pull myself away from the ringside and step inside the North Grenville tent. There I was met with the proud, smiling faces of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Graham. They were admiring a Commemorative Bench they helped sponsor as members of The Bishop’s Mills Community Association and the Bishop’s Mills Women Involved, along with long-time supporter David Bishop.

I snapped a keepsake picture for the couple and continued my merry way. A funky-coloured piano sitting off to the side sang out to me for attention, a sight that may encourage other towns to adopt a similar idea.

Popping in and out of tents, I caught up with several people I know who were representing Leeds and Grenville. I discovered local business owners I hadn’t met before, like Matthew Chaikowsky and his dad, Frank, from Little Rideau Farm in Westport. Matt told me they had already handed out 600 sweet samples of maple candy that day before I got to their table.  

I captured a moment with the Grenville County Queen and Princess of the Furrow in the Dairy Farmers of Ontario tent. Sadly, I didn’t leave myself time to get to the fields and take in the plowing contests firsthand. Next time, I will plan an entire day off to spend at the next IPM.

A few more stops on my whirlwind afternoon included the vendor tent for Mudeas Brand Workwear, showcasing functional yet appealing workwear made in Ontario. A pair of purple women’s overalls “developed specifically for women with a curved waistline and a straight leg fit” probably would have come home with me had there been any left in my size.

Lyndhurst local Leslie Welch, The Firelight Farmgirl, took a chance and travelled daily to set up with some of her furry farm animals, her handmade soap, brightly painted farm animals, tractor and truck magnets and tree ornaments. Judging from the steady flow of customers, I think her decision paid off. Leslie also showcased her brother’s new business, big W Welding Livestock Equipment and the sturdy pens and feeders were a perfect complement for her business, keeping the sheep contained.

Last but certainly not least, the OFA tent was my final destination. Some could say I saved the best for last; perhaps I am prejudiced. The friendly representatives there were handing out lots of fun stuff, including a cute farm-inspired colouring book (that I had a hand in creating the cover for), crayons, posters, seeds for growing wildflowers, and more. A table filled with prizes was on display, and informative placards and a fun kid’s zone were all made possible because of the hard work of many.

Community groups, businesses, organizations and countless volunteers made the International Plowing Match a huge success. Well done, everyone and thanks for a wonderful afternoon.

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