A plowing demonstration at the International Plowing Match 2018 Media Day on September 5, 2018. (Photo by Angelica Haggert)

Volunteers getting CK ready for International Plowing Match

A team of more than 1,000 volunteers is hard at work getting ready for the International Plowing Match 2018.

The IPM opens on September 16, but crews have a long list of things to accomplish before the match opens and 80,000 people take over the fields in Pain Court. One of these projects includes erecting “Tent City,” where hundreds of festival tents will house exhibitors, vendors, and community partner displays. Other projects involve urban street beautification projects, coordinating the many Guinness World Record attempts, and arranging accommodations for participants.

The IPM is back in Chatham-Kent for the first time since 1979, and community officials are looking forward to showcasing the array of agriculture the region has to offer.

Mayor Randy Hope said he especially hopes to see students from Southwestern Ontario during the week of activities.

“It’s so important they understand where their food is coming from,” said Hope. “It’s not just off the shelves at Sobeys. We grow 74 different products right here in Chatham-Kent.”

To help educate those without a rural background who are coming to the IPM, one of the tents will house an education display. Sponsored by Hydro One, the education centres will provide question-and-answer sessions with agricultural producers, interaction with farm animals and farming for the future displays.

Not only have thousands of volunteer hours gone into planning for the event over the last four years, but thousands of dollars too.

On Wednesday, Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls announced the loan from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent had been repaid.

“We borrowed $100,000. Thanks to our sponsors, we only used $60,000 of that,” said Nicholls. “As of three weeks ago, that loan has been repaid.”

Co-chairs Darrin Canniff and Leon LeClair refused to take the credit at Wednesday’s IPM Media Day and instead thanked the volunteers — some of whom were out in the fields setting up tents while media presentations took place.

“There’s so many pieces of the puzzle,” said LeClair. ”We’re all needed whether we’re the small piece or a whole corner.”

Canniff and LeClair also said the IPM was bringing together the rural and urban sides of Chatham-Kent.

“Sometimes council makes a big deal of the rural-urban split… that’s crap,” said LeClair. “We are working so well together.”

Canniff agreed, saying it wasn’t about politics.

“We live in an amazing community,” said Canniff. “This is our opportunity to showcase it. Let’s celebrate CK.”

Advance tickets are on sale for $15 at plowingmatch.org until September 15.  Tickets will be available for $20 during the event.