The numbers are in: the 2019 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM) held just outside Verner in the Municipality of West Nipissing exceeded expectations by welcoming over 80,000 visitors over the course of the event.
This was only the second time in the history of the IPM that the event was held in Northern Ontario.
The official tally for the five-day celebration of agriculture and rural living is 81,517, including 7,400 school children.
“Our board of directors is thrilled and proud to have met one of our objectives. We would like to thank our volunteers, sponsors and exhibitors for joining us at IPM 2019,” says Neil Fox, Chair of IPM 2019.
“The community of West Nipissing pulled out all the stops to ensure our visitors felt welcome and enjoyed their stay in our community.”
In addition to the BMO-sponsored plowing competition, there were also over 500 vendors and exhibitors, three stages of live music, West Coast Lumberjack Shows, a RAM Rodeo Tour, Canadian Cowgirls, a precision drill team, chainsaw carving demonstrations, performances by the Skyhawks Canadian Armed Forces parachute team and more.
Drayton's Heidi Frey was crowned the 2019-2020 Queen of the Furrow. Frey, 20, is a second-year student at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus. She hopes to graduate with an associate diploma in agriculture at the end of the school year.
A total of 1,200 local and provincial volunteers helped to make the event possible. Hydro One, one of the IPM's main sponsors, brought in a team of trainee linemen to set up an energy grid that could power a small city.
Eight hundred acres of farmland belonging to Dan Olivier of Ferme Longvallon Inc. were transformed into a sprawling tented city, competitive fields, and a fully serviced RV park.
IPM 2020 will take place from Oct. 14 to 17 in Lindsay, Kawartha Lakes.
For more information about the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo, as well as the Ontario Plowmen’s Association, visit www.plowingmatch.org.