Countdown to IPM '17: Scott has long history with Huron IPMs
BY DENNY SCOTT
When people are looking to get where they are going at the 2017 International Plowing Match (IPM) in Walton this September, signs will be there to help lead the way thanks to Ken Scott and his dedicated signage committee.
Scott, who lives just outside of Seaforth, has been involved in two previous International Plowing Matches, helping to bring the 1999 “Dust Match” outside of Dashwood to life as part of the event committees and helping to host the 1966 “Mud Match” on his family farm where the parking and plowing for the event was held.
His father, Sam Scott, had attended plowing matches before, but Scott said this was the first time he remembered him being involved.
When thinking back on what he remembers about the 1966 “Mud” match, he said the rain, the mud and the friendliness of those involved are what stick out in his mind.
“We had 80 acres involved in the match,” he said. “The first thing I remember is, the Saturday before the match, I was 16 years old and we were painting tires to make them look good. After that, what I remember is watching the crowds coming and going through the mud.”
The comings and goings left some pretty substantial ruts on the farm, which has been in the family for five generations, especially from parking, Scott said.
“Cars were stuck and having to get pulled out on our property and it was leaving some really, deep, really difficult ruts,” he said.
While he doesn’t have rubber boots turning up on the family farm, that he lives on with his wife Maria, he said that the family did come out with a nice logging chain after the match as it was lost in the mud.
Scott had some jobs to do, both at the grounds and away from them, and he remembers the rain and the mud permeating the entire event.
“I had to haul away manure from the livestock building for the event,” he said. “We had a John Deere B Row Crop and, by the time I was making the trips, the front tires didn’t turn anymore, they just slid through the mud.”
Scott worked at the CKNX television station in Wingham in the mornings and he remembers one day, the water was running in one side of the building and all the way through to the other side.
“I also remember the OPP were using snowmobiles to go up the streets in the mud,” he said. “They didn’t have 4x4s then, so they had to use the snowmobile.”
Scott also remembers working with National Plowing Champion Gordon McGavin who, when Scott presented his time sheet for the match, put a one in front of what he was to be paid.
“As a 16-year-old at the time, that was a pretty big thing,” he said. “It was great and it was very appreciated.”
With the experience from the 1999 match and the fond memories of the 1966 match, Scott was happy to lend a hand when 2017 IPM Chair Jacquie Bishop asked him to be a part of this plowing match.
“She asked if I would be willing to do the signs for the match,” he said. “I was happy to join up.”
The job of the signage committee is to have, in place for the match, the signs people need to get to where they’re going, whether that is for traffic, for parking or for specific displays or locations throughout the ground.
Having those signs ready to go is no mean task and not one that can be started late in the planning process either, says Scott. He and a team of volunteers travelled to the site of the last IPM to clean, sort and deliver the signs to his workshop on his family farm which has been taken over by the inventory of signs, some of which he anticipates are a decade old.
“We have signs for everything really, and any signs we don’t have, we can get made,” he said. “When we picked them up, we cleaned, sorted and moved them all so we could start getting them ready for the IPM.”
Scott said there are signs of all shapes and sizes as well as poles and stakes to display the signs. When all tallied, he anticipates there to be between 500 and 600 signs that came from the previous matches.
“What we started doing at first was to make a database,” he said.
The database has a picture of each sign attached to its information to make it easy to locate the signs committees need, he explained.
Scott’s daughter Jane Haney and another volunteer, Nancy Denham, helped to create the database, which is now a huge file.
“We can’t really share it, but people come to the workshop and look up what we have,” he said.
While getting the signs was quite a job, taking the inventory could have been two weeks of solid work for one person according to Scott.
“There was a lot of work involved with that,” he said. “There were three nights of working for seven volunteers. Each night we spent two and a half hours working on it.”
Scott said the database has made it easy to help people get ready and was a great way to handle the sign inventory. He also started a new practice for the committee in finding crates to put the signs in.
“The idea is that people will get in contact with me prior to the match so I can have a crate ready for them,” he said. “The crate can be moved wherever it needs to go so there is less last-minute running around trying to find this sign or that sign.”
Scott pointed to one crate that has several signs labelled for Matt Townsend who is in charge of the RV Park.
“At the end of the match, we hope people can put the signs back into the crates so they’re easy to sort through for the next group of volunteers,” he said.
While his daughter helped with the database, Scott’s wife Marina will be joining the IPM effort by volunteering at the match.
Scott said getting signs made is a part of the job as well and, when committee members reach out to him, he takes their requests, gets the signs made and puts them where they need to be so they show up at the right spot in September.
Having those signs made earlier is preferable, Scott said, to having to make them with a magic marker just before the match starts, but he is under no illusions. As the day approaches, missings signs will become apparent and they will need to be made.
Not all of the 500-600 signs will see the light of day this year, Scott said.
“We have some signs that aren’t relevant to this year’s match,” he said. “We also purged many signs from the collection as we were sorting them. Some of them are banged up, some of them have too many screw nails and some of them were just worn out.”
While Scott isn’t directly involved in competitive plowing, he said the match has a way of getting people hooked on being a part of it.
“Every time, at the end, you hear people say they are never going to do it again, but they come back as soon as they are asked,” he said. “It’s the people. You couldn’t get better people than Jacquie and the people with which she’s surrounded herself. The involvement and the excitement are great, but it’s the people you get to work with that keep you coming back.”
He said that everyone has been great to work with so far and he hopes that continues as the match approaches and planning and preparing becomes more hectic.
Scott said he couldn’t have managed the job so far without his committee, including Kyle DeCorte, Sean Ryan, Rob VandenHengel, Con Melady and Ben Van derAkker. He also employed the services of Gerry VandenHengel of Seaforth as co-chair, though VandenHengel, through admitting he wasn’t too busy, has found himself with other responsibilities as well. He was put in charge of the flags that will adorn the sign for the IPM on North Line just south of Walton.
Seven flags need to be erected: Canada, Huron East, Ontario, the Ontario Plowman’s Association, the Huron County Plowmen’s Association, the International Plowing Match 2017 Committee’s and Canada 150.
When asked what struck him about the entire process, VandenHengel found, through sorting the signs, that a lot of them couldn’t be used for this year’s IPM.
“The directional signs are fine, but signs for individual tents couldn’t be used,” he said.
He said the experience has been an interesting one because the committee has had to find its way on its own.
“We’re very much feeling our way through the whole thing,” he said. “No one has told us exactly what to do so we’re just working with what we’ve got.”
While they may need to figure some things out as they go, one thing’s for sure – keeping people going the right way when it comes to an event as big as the IPM is no easy feat and it takes an entire team of volunteers and countless hours to make sure everything points where it needs to. Fortunately for the IPM, Scott, with the help of VandenHengel and the rest of the committee, are on the job.