Leon Leclair, left, co-chair of the 2018 International Plowing Match & Rural Expo, and Jean Laprise, who is chairing the land committee and agricultural education committee, are pictured during the official sign unveiling held just outside of Pain Court, Ont. on Thursday June 15, 2017, where the event will take place in September 2018. (Ellwood Shreve/Chatham Daily News)
By Ellwood Shreve, Chatham Daily News
PAIN COURT – A large sign just outside this hamlet marking the site of the 2018 International Plowing Match & Rural Expo will be dwarfed by the expanse of the event planned for September 2018.
The sign was unveiled on Thursday as a chance to recognize the seven landowners from five area farm families that include the Laprise, Pritchard, Faubert, Crowe and Gable families, who are providing the approximately 900 acres so Chatham-Kent can host the IPM.
“Land chair Jean Laprise has done a great job of organizing a very good parcel of properties,” said Chatham-Kent IPM co-chair Leon Leclair. “They are all deserving of our thanks and the Laprise family especially in making a huge contribution to what is going to be a very successful event.
Jean Laprise said construction will begin on his property in July 2018 so it can house an RV Park and 75-acre Tented City.
“There’s a lot of work happening on this site in particular,” he said, noting Hydro One will be erecting 320 hydro poles.
“They’re going to be a couple of months building this site,” Laprise said, adding electricity, water and a sewage will be provided to support 800-1,000 serviced lots for RVs.
Laprise, who is also serving as chair of the IPM’s agricultural education committee, says there are big plans for this aspect of the event.
“I’m going to make sure that people get educated about agriculture here,” he said.
Laprise said there will be displays about food safety, drones, auto-steer farm equipment and other types of technology that is part of agriculture today. He added it will also educate people about the many high-tech jobs in the industry.
Crops are the mainstay of agriculture and Laprise said plans are in the works to grow 40 different crops that will all mature during the week of the IPM.
He noted this will take a lot of planning.
“We’ll be planting crops for probably about three months to make sure they all coincide for the IMP.”
Laprise said the IPM will be a great chance for urban residents to see what agriculture is like today.
“It’s a high-tech business that most people don’t understand,” he said.
“If they don’t learn anything, they weren’t listening and they weren’t looking,” Laprise quipped.
IPM co-chair Darrin Canniff said local organizers have been making a lot of progress.
“We owe a lot of thanks to the sponsors who have come on board, and will soon be in a position to welcome more,” he said.
Dave Murray, first vice-president with the Ontario Plowmen’s Association, which runs the IPM, said, “hopefully in September 2018, this whole community is excited and enthused and wants to come see it.”
He noted the challenge is to get urban residents to realize the wide variety of activities and entertainment that is available at the IPM, which has a broad appeal to many people.
“It is an interesting event, because anyone who thinks they can come and see the IPM in one day, they can’t do it,” Murray said. “There’s too much there to see, so we really want people to come one day and come back again to enjoy it some more.”