IPM returns to area in 2022

·3 min read

Before the province builds a correctional facility off County Road 44 in North Grenville, the 182-acre parcel of land will get one more agricultural use.

On Friday, Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark announced that the province has authorized the land for use to host the 2022 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM).

"I'm pleased that our government has formally cleared the way for North Grenville to host the 2022 International Plowing Match on the former Kemptville College lands, bringing this prestigious event back to Leeds and Grenville," said Clark.

While the 182-acre property won't hold the entire plowing match, it was a key component to hosting the event in North Grenville, according to regional plowmen's association board chairman Harry Bennett.

"The land in question, which is the site of the new prison, will hold the tented city – so all the exhibitors - and we'll also use that land for the horse plowing and VIP plowing," said Bennett.

Parking and the RV park will spill over across the road (County Road 44) onto municipal land, but more room is still needed.

"We will need more land for the competition plowing, but that hasn't been finalized yet," said Bennett.

The IPM was last held in Leeds and Grenville in 2007 when it was hosted by Rideau Lakes Township. Next year's IPM will be hosted in Lindsay.

It takes about two to three years to organize each IPM, with the help of anywhere from 400 to 500 volunteers, according to Bennett.

"The International Plowing Match and Rural Expo is a staple event for Ontario's farmers, which showcases our renowned agriculture sector to visitors from around the world," said Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman.

Gaining permission to use the provincial acreage in North Grenville has been an ongoing negotiation for the past year.

"MPP Clark was certainly in favour of us using the land, and we believe he was pushing for us to have it, so we're very grateful for that," said Bennett.

Clark had requested use of the site after being approached by the Ontario Plowmen’s Association and local organizers.

"The Plowing Match is an incredible opportunity for us to highlight our region's rich agricultural history and to show the world that we remain on the leading edge of food production and agri-business innovation," said Clark, adding the event is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors to the community, providing an economic boost and creating new opportunities for investment.

The Ontario Plowmen's Association, which has existed since 1911, has been organizing IPMs for more than 100 years.

"The first plowing match was held in 1913 on Sunnybrook farm, the site of Sunnybrook Hospital today; it's only been cancelled a handful of times, once in 1918 due to the Spanish Flu, and a couple of times during World War II when farmers couldn't leave their farms, and then this year with COVID," said Cathy Lasby, executive director of the Ontario Plowmen’s Association.

Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative, Brockville Recorder and Times