Closing Tented City a difficult choice for committee - Sept. 28, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
The committee behind the International Plowing Match (IPM) faced a very difficult decision due to the isolated rain incident that flooded the grounds of the tented city on Tuesday: whether Tented City should remain open or not.
The IPM represented years, as well as thousands of hours, of work, much of which was put into question after the reported inch and a half of rain that fell on the site in just a few hours, leaving behind a muddy mess that represented a safety hazard for foot traffic.
In a release regarding the incident, shared shortly after 9 p.m. on Sept. 19, the committee explained that they wouldn’t be “stewards of the land”, an important tennant of the event, by having the grounds open on Wednesday.
“Our lives – who we are – comes from this land – and by opening the gates tomorrow we would not be stewards of the land for the future – a foundation of the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo,” the report said. “Furthermore, the safety of our visitors and all who help to put on this match is our priority.”
The decision followed many events on Tuesday having to be cancelled due to the weather, including the truncation of the opening day parade and the cancellation of VIP plowing, which would have seen politicians like Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and official opposition Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown try their hand at the staple of the plowing match.
After considering the impact of the weather on the grounds as well as the future of the lands that the event was hosted on, the committee decided, late Tuesday evening, that the Tented City would be closed on Wednesday.
However, when the sun didn’t come out until after noon on Wednesday, coupled with some scattered showers in the area, members of the committee were concerned they’d have to remain closed on Thursday as well, despite the best efforts of those on site.
Some aspects of the event continued on Wednesday when Tented City was closed to the public, with championship plowing taking place in some of the fields around the grounds later on Wednesday and the Brussels Fall Fair 4-H show, which was set to take place in the Tented City, taking place at its traditional home of the Brussels, Morris, Grey and Community Centre.
Fans lined the fields around the IPM grounds to catch their local plowmen vying for top spots and the opportunity to represent Ontario at the Canadian Plowing Match and, hopefully, at the world championships the following year.
The Ontario Queen of the Furrow competition plowing also went forward, allowing the Queens, who represented plowing associations across the province, to score their first points toward the coveted provincial crown.
While the Brussels Fall Fair 4-H show and plowing were happening around the Tented City, volunteers and municipal and county staff were hard at work on Wednesday helping the grounds to recover from the significant rain event on Tuesday.
Mud was scraped off the major travel and service roads at the site, digging down to the dryer land, while volunteers, some of whom, called themselves the Mud Busters, travelled the Tented City attending to the muddiest spots, both inside and outside of tents and displays, with sawdust and wood shavings in an attempt to sop up the excess water on the grounds.
Aided by hot weather later on Wednesday and throughout the week, the grounds were ready and willing to accept visitors by Thursday morning. By Friday morning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie and their children visited the grounds where he took part in plowing and the family stopped by the Queen of the Furrow contestant speeches.
By Saturday, the grounds were dry and all scheduled events went forward. Reports earlier in the week from the grounds stated that the opening parade would be changed to a closing parade held on Saturday morning, however, that parade was eventually cancelled as well.