Baudette hosts World Ploughing Championship

Sam Odrowski

The 2019 World Ploughing Championship came to Baudette this past weekend and thousands gathered to view the international contest.

Over 50 competitors from 23 different countries competed in the event where Switzerland and Scotland each took first place in two separate divisions.

The international competition is hosted in the United States once every 30 years, and event organizer Joe Henry said he was very impressed with the turnout.

“We’re a very northern destination, not really close to any big population bases, and we estimate we got somewhere right around 7,000 people to come for the weekend,” he enthused.

“We think for a one-time event, out in the field, a couple miles south of Baudette, that’s pretty darn good.”

Over half the competitors shipped their tractors across the ocean so they could be used at the contest.

“It was kind of neat because although some competitors came in as early as three weeks ahead of time, everybody had to be here by Sunday, Aug. 26,” Henry explained.

In the conventional division, Andrew Mitchell of Scotland took first place while Eamonn Tracey of Ireland landed second place, and Gene Gruber of St. Cloud Minnesota took third, while Bert Beyens of Canada came in 17th place.

In the reversible division, Marco Angst of Switzerland finished first overall, John Whelan of Ireland took second, and Seven Korsgaard of Denmark won third, while Canadian, Thomas Evans received 15th place.

To qualify for the World Ploughing Competition, competitors had to have won a nation wide contest and then were able to represent their country.

The contest is scored by judges based on how straight the land is ploughed, the depth of the furrow, while keeping all the rows that are ploughed perfectly even.

“The competitors are using a two bottom plough, yet you have many rows all the way across and you got to make sure that the height of those rows is the same all the way across,” Henry noted. “It’s just very technical.”

Because of the heavier soil in Baudette, certain competitors who were practicing for the contest in advance noticed their plough entered the ground on a bit of a bend and had to adjust their ploughing equipment.

“People were grinding, people were welding, people were taking things apart before the contest to really get dialed in,” Henry remarked.

“They were watching the weather report to see if they were going to get moisture or not and they were paying attention to the soil types of course.”

There’s a lot of variables involved in the sport of ploughing and a perfect plough doesn’t happen by chance, Henry stressed.

And while ploughing isn’t overly popular in Canada or the United States, certain parts of Europe have a deep appreciation for the contest.

“In some countries it’s like their NASCAR,” Henry explained. “In Ireland for instance they do an annual three day contest each year and they get 300,000 spectators.”

Henry told the times it took a lot of work to host the international event and he is grateful to all who the individuals and sponsors who lent a hand.

Russia will host the championship next year.