Ensure grounds are smooth for walking and don’t turn it into a flea market
Maynard van der Galien
The same size large gathering of people as two years ago at the North Gower Grains Customer Appreciation Day on June 29 is good news for the organizers of the International Plowing Match (IPM), which will be held in Kemptville next month. It shows that people want to get out and mingle again after being stuck at home for two years.
The Fosters, and their staff of 20, didn’t know how many people would show up for the noon hour barbecued rib luncheon on June 29, so they advertised the event and requested people to RSVP by June 20th. That was a smart move. It told them that over 800 people would come.
It was good to get out for a day and see farm friends, farm businesses, crop consultants and especially neighbours again. Where else can you see and talk to neighbours? It is funny driving two hours to an event and chatting to neighbours whom you haven’t seen or spoken to in some time.
The Foster crew was all decked out in bright yellow shirts making them very visible throughout the huge fabric machine shed that was converted to a meeting place and dining hall with rows and rows of tables and chairs. Everyone could sit down to eat. There was plenty of food and pieces of pie and ice cream for everyone.
My next big event will be attending the IPM at Kemptville. I have written about IPM events for almost 40 years and have been very critical of some of them. I have also heaped praises to others. For example, the Lanark County IPM outside of Carleton Place in 2003 and the 2009 IPM in northern Ontario at Earlton were two that I gave good reviews. The one at Carleton Place had many very impressive displays of antiques.
But I also put advice memos in the columns for the organizers of the IPM. The 2019 Match held at Verner west of North Bay in West Nipissing was, sadly, a shadow of its former self. They were blessed with sunny and warm weather all week. But the grounds were terribly rough. I didn’t know hayfields could be that rough. There was a dead furrow running through the centre of one large tent. Uneven ground in a tent is a fall waiting to happen. I asked how young families pushing strollers with kids could enjoy a day walking on washboard type of ground.
My memo to the Ontario Plowman’s Association stated: Make sure the grounds are smooth and level. That’s important.
“Rough uneven fields at IPM give hayfields a bad name,”was the title of my column on the IPM event at Navan in 2001.
I wrote: “I have never seen hayfields as rough as those used for the tented city and parking fields at the IPM at Navan, Ontario….”
I also wrote this: “I put three rocks (they weren’t the only ones I picked) that I picked off the main dirt parade road (near the main stage known as Canada Place and Canada Way) in beside a tent and out of sight. After Mike Harris, Dalton McGuinty, Eugene Whelan, Brian Coburn, Bob Chiarelli and other important dignitaries drove by I wondered if I hadn’t picked up the road rocks someone could have thrown at Mike or Bob. That was probably unlikely because most farmers like Mike Harris and his government.”
I did give Navan a plus for their excellent antiques and historical sites.
At another IPM event my memo or advice to the IPM organizing committee was: Don’t flood the IPM with hundreds of school children on a school day.
And this one from a column: Don’t turn the IPM into a flea market.
In the 1990s, I was very critical of the portable toilets at IPM sites. They were often dirty and disgusting. I suggested they should be inspected and cleaned regularly during every day of the event, not just after 5 p.m. And so I’ve noticed that there is a cleaning crew going around to the porta-potties checking and cleaning them all day. Wonderful! Maybe the health department insisted on that too.
I’ve been critical of the IPM hours. Why does it close at 5 p.m.? That was maybe okay 40 years ago when a large segment of the population was involved in farming and they had to be back home to milk and do chores. But in recent years it’s mostly hobby farmers, retirees, RV trailer campers and school children who make up the crowds. Most people in the neighbourhood of an IPM work out and I’m sure many of them would go if it was open one evening — let’s say Friday night until 9 p.m.
I’ll see you at Kemptville!
Maynard van der Galien is a Renfrew-area farmer and a long-time columnist with Farmers Forum.