Huron East IPM tent lauded by many - Oct. 5, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron East went out on a limb and, as the International Plowing Match’s host municipality, created its own tent and the gamble seems to have paid off.
Economic Development Officer Jan Hawley, in a Monday morning interview, said she received nothing but compliments on the quality of the municipality’s tent.
The tent featured artistic displays for each of the municipality’s five wards and several interactive displays. One celebrated Huron East’s rich hockey history, while another simulated baling hay and the Seaforth display welcomed people to try to sink a putt.
It was staffed all week by municipal staff, councillors and municipal business owners volunteering their time for the good of the municipality.
Hawley said the volunteers who came forward to help her with the project couldn’t have done a better job and, as of Monday morning, the large tent had already largely been taken down.
She also said that she received tremendous support from the municipality’s public works department.
Hawley had been working on the special display for over a year with a number of partners, including Chris Cooper, with whom she has collaborated on a number of projects. Cooper helped to design the model historical buildings for the display and was involved in the video productions as well.
She also pointed to a classic display of a farmer and his wife on which she transposed the heads of host farmer Jack Ryan and his late wife Marianna. On Tuesday, opening day of the match, Hawley says that the Ryan family came through the tent and that Jack was moved to tears seeing the image of him and his wife together again in the tent.
The tent also featured a draw for $1,000 in Huron East services and merchandise. The winner was set to be drawn on Monday afternoon.
In addition to the Huron East tent, as well as the municipality’s barn within the Huron County’s countryside display, the municipality as a whole saw a huge economic bump as a result of the match according to Hawley.
She says she’s happy to see the teamwork and pulling together that made the match happen, because in the early days of Huron’s bid to host the match she wasn’t sure it would pay off.
“At first, I didn’t see the merit of it,” Hawley said. “The jury was still out with me.”
But after seeing it come to fruition, Hawley said the match exceeded her expectations and she thinks it will go down as a historic event in Huron East, as well as Huron County.
She said that as an economic event, it’s hard to quantify its impact, but as a community event, its positive impact was clear.
“Just putting the event all together, seeing people showing up every day and giving 110 per cent was great,” Hawley said.
While she spent much of the five days at the IPM, Hawley said that what she saw on the streets of Huron East and what she’s heard has all been positive. Streets were full, stores were full and everyone was positive around the municipality.
Cinnamon Jim’s in Brussels reported a 25 per cent spike in its business throughout the IPM and that wasn’t the only positive.
“I wasn’t able to go to the IPM, but we met some lovely people all week. We met all kinds of people from all over and it was just a really nice experience for us,” said Lois Lee, co-owner of Cinnamon Jim’s.