County IPM Showcase welcomed over 31,000 - Dec. 21, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Jenna Ujiye, the co-ordinator of Huron County’s International Plowing Match (IPM) showcase, said that over 31,000 people made their way through the county’s tent over the four days of the match.
Ujiye said that with attendance like that, she felt the county’s display was a huge success. The display was split in half. One half was dedicated to nine wooden barns, one for each of the nine lower-tier municipalities, and the other to focus on county initiatives and aspects of entertainment like a stage featuring local talent and a bar showcasing local breweries and wineries.
The display, she said, took 22 days to set up and only five to tear down. The county saw thousands of entries in a number of initiatives over the course of the IPM, whether it be in research projects at the site or on social media.
The display, she said, generated revenue of over $23,000 from the sale of materials inside the display, including the wooden table and bench sets and the flooring. Sales greatly exceeded expectations, with much of the flooring being purchased by Chatham-Kent, next year’s IPM hosts, for a similar display.
In addition, Ujiye said that over $10,000 was made by selling drinks at the county bar, almost all of which was infused back into the breweries and wineries that provided products for the set-up.
Ujiye said that while she felt the display was a great success with plenty of economic spin-off, not just for the county but for county businesses and organizations, there were some things that could be done better if the county does choose to host an IPM once again.
She said that timelines were extremely tight, so if the county hosts an IPM again, the county should begin planning three years prior to the event. That includes, she said, hiring staff and communicating with all departments.
She also suggested better lines of communication with the Ontario Plowmen’s Association, the IPM executive and the county itself.
“A communications plan should be set up as soon as a project is initiated. All parties should be included within the plan and meet on a regular basis. In the future, a memorandum of understanding should be endorsed,” Ujiye said in her report to council.
She suggested that organizers should prepare for any type of weather the match could encounter, although she acknowledged that, as seen in 2017, that would be much easier said than done.
She also said that there should be plans put in place to bring waste and recycling bins to the site and remove them during set-up and tear-down and to request extra bins during the week of the match. She also said that organizers should plan on internet and electricity not being turned on until just three or four days before the match begins.
There were a number of highlights from the work done by the county on the match, however, saying that it highlighted a tremendous level of teamwork involving many different staff members from across the county.
“The showcase has brought together staff from across the county. Approximately 100 staff were involved in helping to figure out the details of the showcase. As a result of this project, we have created great processes to help cross-departmental projects and communications for the future,” Ujiye said in her report.
She said that engaging all nine lower-tier municipalities created “wonderful and representative” displays in the mini-barns, which helped to grow partnerships and shared services with the county’s partner municipalities.
Ujiye also acknowledged the great relationship being forged between the county and the Saugeen First Nation community. She said the work done on the IPM should help with various county projects in the future.
She also said that the visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family was a definite highlight by anyone’s standards. The co-ordination it took to arrange the visit and ensure the Prime Minister’s safety while in Walton was no small feat, she said.
In addition, Ujiye said that the hashtag #HCProud, which was created by the county for agricultural marketing purposes, really became a rallying cry and a source of pride for county residents during the IPM. This was especially true when the Tuesday of the match washed out the grounds and hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly to repair the grounds during the Wednesday of the match to ensure that everything would be great when the site re-opened on Thursday.
“The staff and volunteers at the Huron County Showcase were extremely proud of the showcase and how it turned out. The pride was shown through many comments, letters, notes and e-mails,” Ujiye said.
After Ujiye’s presentation, North Huron Reeve Neil Vincent agreed with her, saying that the match will be remembered for the hard work and community spirit shown in the face of adversity and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
“We did it as a county, we did it as a moment and we did it as a community called Huron County,” Vincent said.