2015 IPM plows money back into the community

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

FINCH — Organizers of the 2015 SDG International Plowing Match & Rural Expo marked their last official event on Finch soil by giving $385,000 back to the community.

Three local hospitals in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry collected the majority of the IPM’s Legacy Fund — local net proceeds of the Sept. 22-26 event attended by more than 83,000 people.

At the June 18 ceremony inside North Stormont Arena, Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH), Glengarry Memorial Hospital (GMH), and Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) collected 90 per cent of the scheduled $100,000 that each institution is scheduled to receive once the IPM books are officially closed this fall.

To a cascade of applause, 2015 IPM Chair Jim Brownell presided over the donations in front of hundreds of people gathered for the event’s last official volunteer appreciation event. Many wore the distinctive orange shirts that became closely associated with the event after planning began in 2012.

“There was an amazing amount of money [raised], and we’re very excited what’s happening here this afternoon, said Brownell, praising the legion of volunteers who contributed to last fall’s success. “You were an organized, very successful team … you all made me look good.”

“I think you stole the title from Disney as the happiest place on earth for those few days,” Cindy Peters, WDMH Foundation board member, remarked in praise of the IPM.

“At every hospital, gold standard medical equipment is as important as the professionals who use it. The best equipment combined with our amazing healthcare team results in compassionate, excellent healthcare close to home,” said Peters. “Thank you so much for this incredibly generous gift.”

“Thank you very much for this. I know the event was a lot of hard work. This money represents a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It’s appropriate you call it a Legacy Fund because in Cornwall we’re building a new mental health and addiction centre,” said Dale McSween, chair of the Cornwall Community Hospital Foundation. “This cheque will ensure that we have as much capability in our mental health treatment as we do in the conventional medical area.”

Barry MacDonald, chair of the Glengarry Memorial Hospital, said he was “so thrilled” by the donation, adding the funds would help purchase new IV pumps at that institution.

The balance of the Legacy Fund went to a slew of local causes. Fifteen individual cheques of $1,000 — as chosen by each director — were distributed. Committee representatives handed out an additional 42 cheques of $500 apiece.

Brownell explained that total IPM profits were divided with the Ontario Plowmen’s Association — under whose auspices the event occurs each year at a different site in the province — leaving $385,000 for the local board to distribute. The available sum was also set after repayment of $100,000 to the United Counties of SDG. Organizers were “very appreciative” of this seed money from the counties, he said.

The afternoon included a brief tribute and standing ovation for Jeff Waldroff, the director who originally dreamed of bringing the event back to SDG for its third time in 80 years. The first two editions respectively took place in 1936 and 1958. “We don’t have a date for the next one here,” quipped Waldroff. “Hopefully, there are some younger people that will step up.”

Tokens of appreciation also went out to the other directors as well as the landowners whose fields served as the tented city — Monica and Armin Kagi.

And third place finisher in the IPM’s auctioneers’ challenge, Chad Simmons of Finch, 20, again brought his booming voice to the microphone for a special auction of remaining IPM mementoes.

Leftover commemorative cookbooks, posters and brochures were freely distributed to bring final closure to the 2015 SDG International Plowing Match and Rural Expo.

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