Fire truck parade. September 22, 2018. (Photo by Natalia Vega).

2018 IPM ends on an ‘amazing’ note (GALLERY)

Gates to the 2018 International Plowing Match (IPM) and Rural Expo have officially closed for good.

The event kicked off on Tuesday in Pain Court and officially ended Saturday evening at 5 p.m. The last day of the IPM had a full schedule, where attendees could watch the Canadian Cowgirls, the rodeo, a fire truck parade, and live music.

IPM Co-chair Darrin Canniff said the five-day event went above and beyond expectations.

Fire truck parade. September 22, 2018. (Photo by Natalia Vega).

“It has exceeded our expectations, as far as how the community has come together and rallied around this. It’s an amazing event,” he said. “Mother nature threw us some curve balls but we got past it.”

Events Thursday afternoon were cancelled due to the amount of rainfall and safety concerns that followed. However, the show went on Friday and Saturday.

Although there isn’t an official head-count number yet, Co-chair Leon LeClair said thousands of people came through the area — not just local residents. With that came the opportunity to educate people on the agricultural sector.

“Agriculture is important, very important. So that’s the message that gets out,” said LeClair. “The rural/ urban divide for me is a big thing, I would like to see that eliminated. I think Ontario learned from our project this week.”

Canniff said organizers tried to make this IPM different from previous years by generating buzz on a viral scale. One of the ways of doing so involved attempting various world records. Organizers were successful on Wednesday in making and consuming the world’s largest Caesar Cocktail.

However, they were unsuccessful in Tuesday’s attempt at having the most participants in an egg and spoon race. The ruling on another attempt is still in question. Before the gates closed Thursday afternoon, several people took part in a bid to have the most people bobbing for apples at one time. There was some discrepancy in the number of people counted but Canniff said they’re still hopeful that the attempt was successful.

“There was more than enough [people] in the arena to do that so we’re just waiting on [Guinness World Records] to check the video and various things,” said Canniff. “We’re confident that they’re going to come back and say we set a world record for that.”

Leftovers from the corn on the cob challenge. September 22, 2018. (Photo by Natalia Vega.)

To cap off the final day of the event, volunteers handed out corn to people to establish an IPM record of having the most people eating corn on the cob at one time. The final count came down to 1,125.

Looking back at the entire process, LeClair said the IPM would not be what it was without the volunteers and sponsors.

“I’m just so humbled and proud of how this community came together,” he said. “[The IPM] has been awesome. I don’t know if I can say ‘awesome’ enough, it’s been fantastic, it’s been great!”

LeClair said a flag signed by the volunteers will be presented to council at a later date as a “thank you for supporting us” type of gesture. Moving forward, LeClair said the IPM may be something future council members want to consider when it comes time to budgeting money for community events.

“I think events like this create a lot of buzz [and] create a great public image for Chatham-Kent,” said LeClair. “We need to do more.”

LeClair said money raised from the IPM stays within Chatham-Kent. In terms of a five-day 50/50 draw, one winner walked away with $89,045, while the other half of the money raised will go towards Big Brothers, Big Sisters Chatham-Kent.