Northwoods Adventure: Small Town USA Hosts 28 Countries For 66th Annual World Ploughing Competition
It’s an international championship that brings together the world’s best plowers. This year, the 66th annual World Ploughing Competition was held in Lake of the Woods on the Arnesen Family Farmland two miles south of Baudette. People from all over came to see plowers in action as they strategically plowed on stubble wheat and grassland. There are two plowing divisions in the competition: conventional and reversible.
“It’s interesting to watch all the different countries and the different tractors and the different plows and how they’re doing it,” said attendee Rex Block.
“This is like the Olympics, this is the world class plowing, it doesn’t get any better than this,” attendee Paul Barrie said.
One day one competitor plowed in stubble, and the second day they’re plowing in grassland. Judges are looking at straightness, they’re looking at the depth of furors, and they’re looking at the precision of rows making sure that there’s no root or grass popping out, and they’re doing this all with no navigational help.
“They’re jumping up with their plows, they’re plowing a little way, they’ll jump off, they’ll run back because they’re timed. They’ll run back and check on their rows and furors. Then they might tweak it with a wrench, they might adjust something hydraulically and then jump back up on. They’re moving – I mean, the intensity is crazy,” said Joe Henry, Executive Director of Tourism for Lake of the Woods.
Plowman Gene Gruber from Richmond, Minnesota is the only American to ever win the World Ploughing Championship. This year, he competed in the Conventional Plowing and won third place in the competition.
“You don’t know until you get into the soil what your plots are going to be like, and what the width is going to cut until you get into it, and then you just do the best job you can,” Gruber said.
The general secretary for the World Ploughing Organization says Americans are intrigued when they see the plowing, but she’s surprised it’s not a big deal in the country.
“America is such a big country, you automatically expect that plowing is bigger in America and it’s not. It’s actually one of the smaller organizations. You’ve got good plowmen, but it’s one of the smaller organizations. So that’s something we’d really love to see change in the future,” said Anna Marie McHugh.
Lake of the Woods is known as the walleye capital of the world, but for three days they were known as the world plowing destination. The impact of the plowing competition has left a positive impression on the area.
“Normally we’d be seeing in more of the fishing publications and that sort of thing. But in this case, it’s been a different demographic, and I think that’s really where value comes in is that exposure for our market,” Henry said.
Scotland took first place for this year’s conventional division and Switzerland took first for the reversible plowing division. There’s no cash prize for winning countries, but they do get a golden plough trophy and bragging rights.