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International Plowing Match celebrates 75 years

May 10th, 2016 | Category: Features

The International Plowing Match is a favorite event. Between the strength and skill on display, its history and stories, and legacy and future, it is a time-honored annual tradition; an important piece of local agricultural heritage.

Valley View Percherons. Photo by Monica Zikusooka

Valley View Percherons. Photo by Monica Zikusooka

Started in 1942 as a friendly competition, the event brought out many of the local plowing families over the years as well as plowers from just across the border and around the region. The family lineage and regional participation continues today, and includes classes for Adult, Ladies and Youth Walking Plow and Riding Plow. Witness local teams such as Mt. View Belgians, Valley View Percherons, Shagren’s Belgians, and others compete with beautiful draft horses and show the amazing skills and strength involved.

See pieces of history, too. Organizers have kept photographs and other memorabilia over the years, including the original score card from the very first match and the guest book from 1949 that attendees can still sign today.

Vander Giessen Nursery, while doing renovations in January, discovered a sign in their warehouse that dates back to the first match and includes the names of each year’s winner, many of them local draft legends. The Nursery donated the sign to the Plowing Match and will now be on display each year.


How it started in 1942

Shagren’s Belgians. Photo by Monica Zikusooka

Shagren’s Belgians. Photo by Monica Zikusooka

“One spring day in 1942 as Cornie and Jack were driving through the country and admiring the freshly plowed fields, one of them said, “Let’s have a plowing match”.”

And so goes the story of how the International Plowing Match had its start. According to the Northwest Washington Fair’s history of the event – written in part by Elvina Magill Verduin, whose husband Cornelius “Cornie” Verduin, along with Jack Elliott and Fred Polinder, helped start the first event – the men went across the border to Chilliwack, B.C., where a plowing match had been established. Members of the Canadian Plowing Society helped the men with organization and judging.

“Thus began the first all-horse plowing match in the United States. They named it the International Plowing Match because Canadians continued to participate each year (in a special Canadian class because their plows are very different from the standard American plow),” the fair’s history of the event reads.

The Match went on to be held in a few different locations, and always kept the event informal for those attending and free admission.

In l982, “the Northwest Washington Fair was asked to hold the match on the fairgrounds in conjunction with the new Spring Fair. This continued until 2009 when the match was held at the North Washington Implement site on Guide and Main Streets due to events scheduling. In 2010 (the 69th consecutive year) the Plowing Match was moved to Berthusen Park west of Lynden which is intended to become its permanent home along with the Puget Sound Antique Tractor and Machinery Association.”

This beloved annual event continues to be sponsored by the Northwest Washington Fair and other local businesses, and is organized by the International Plowing Association, an active group of volunteers consisting of multi-generational plowing families and folks interested in its preservation.

–Grow Northwest


Published in the May 2016 issue of Grow Northwest


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