RENFREW – Residents of Renfrew County could be treated in 2021 to a local edition of the iconic, rotating International Plowing Match and Rural Expo which last ventured to the area in 1994.
The Town of Renfrew hopes to partner with Renfrew County and neighbouring Admaston-Bromley Township in attracting the event; one of Ontario’s most prestigious agricultural gatherings.
Sponsored by the Ontario Plowmen’s Association since 1913, the pre-packaged IPM travels to different parts of the province based on requests, local preparedness, and desire to accommodate various regions. The really big show comes boxed and ready to be set up by OPA crews, right down to water lines and hydro poles.
It’s a grab bag of tented city containing vendors booths and information exhibits, food kiosks, live entertainment, livestock demonstrations, RV park, and a handful of oddities. The 2019 IPM is set for Verner, Sept. 17 to 21, with the 2020 site yet to be revealed; two to three years of hard work are required at the local level to get ready for the arrival of the IPM’s big rigs which pack up and move to next year’s location upon completion of the current edition.
Proceeds from an IPM are split down the middle between the association and the local organizing committee that needs several hundred volunteers to pull the spectacle together. A successful show drawing 100,000 or so visitors over five days can net $500,000 for community causes as was the case when the match was held near Pembroke, along with millions of dollars in economic spinoffs. Since 1994, the IPM has come to Eastern Ontario several times, the last being at Finch in 2015.
Town of Renfrew reeve Peter Emon, who sits on county council, expects his municipal partners to willingly sign up. After that cooperation is secured, the next step is to firm up agreements with farmland owners adjacent to the town’s Ma-te-Way Park which will become the core of the site. Total land to be assembled would be 600 to 750 acres which would serve the needs of the event.