BIG ROCK – Rain cut short one of the oldest plowing competitions in the state Sunday but many festivities supporting it pressed on.
As the rain came in Sunday, the planned competition between antique tractors from the 1930s and earlier was canceled, along with many carnival rides that were open earlier in the weekend. But several other competitions and auction stands selling produce, old-fashioned items and food stayed open.
Bill Brickert, a plowing match coordinator, was disappointed by the weather shortening the plowing matches as hard work went into preparing the fields. Every year, Big Rock holds the Big Rock Plowing Match that is based on Welsh heritage that is more than 100 years old.
It's an event that can draw people from all over the nation to see old-fashioned plowing techniques. In most cases, the machines they used had less horsepower than lawnmowers, Brickert said.
"It's interesting to see the old trackers and plowers," he said. "We've even had a guy from South Dakota come here to plow."
The competition is not just about watching people plow, it's also about the agricultural history of the area, said Roger Hatfield, president of the Big Rock Plowing Match Association. Hatfield has been a member of the association since 1967 and has been president for 28 years.
"You get all these people who try to get their father's or grandfather's tractors," Hatfield said. "A lot of it is a family tradition."
Hatfield said the competition used to be held Saturdays but now has entertainment and other activities from Friday to Sunday. On Sunday, the Big Rock Plowing Match featured a farmers market auction, baked goods auctions and a 4-H beef show.
The grain and vegetable auction featured prize-winning food such as apples, Indian corn and large pumpkins. Cindy Dean, supervisor of the stand, said the Big Rock Plowing Match is sort of like homecoming.
"It's great," Dean said. "You get to see so many people you don't normally see in the community."
Proceeds from the auction go to the Big Rock Plowing Match Association, she said. Last year, the proceeds were $300 and on average they are between $200 and $300, she said.
Other auctions that support the association with proceeds is the Junior Fair and Ladies Fair. The Ladies Fair auctions baked goods, knitted items and photography. Despite the name, the fair is open to all people, said Cheryl Lee, a committee member for the Ladies Fair. Many of the activities and parking at competition is free and proceeds from the auction help sustain the competition every year.
"People know that it helps and it keeps the fair going every year," Lee said.