MacKenzies to host Huron County Plowing Match at Amalgamation Acres
BY DENNY SCOTT
Brian and Annette MacKenzie are offering up one of their family farms for the Huron County Plowing Match this year at Amalgamation Acres, the site which includes their family maple business, Legacy Maple.
The couple, alongside their adult children, is opening the farm to the celebration of plowing and agriculture despite having no real connection to competitive plowing, aside from Annette having attended a plowing match or two over the years.
The couple decided to host the event after discussing the issue with a neighbour, Barb Snowden. That, paired with discussions about hosting with Huron County Plowmen's Association President Brian Wiersma and Ontario Federation of Agriculture Member Service Representative Margaret Vincent earlier this year, led to the MacKenzies wanting to host the event. The drive, they said, was to bring the event to St. Helens and show off the community.
The match will also serve as a chance for the family to show off some antique farm equipment, specifically steam engines. When Brian and Annette first took on the role, they weren’t sure what they were responsible for on the day of the match, but once they were told they were only required to be on hand for some appearances and to greet people, they decided they wanted to bring some of their family engines out to show off.
While there are some questions as to what exactly will be at the grounds, the family is looking forward to doing some plowing with a 1912 M. Rumely Co. 20 horsepower rear-mounted steam engine and a Cockshutt Western Plow, the latter of which is owned by Charlie Roadhouse.
“There will also be other engines and boilers for display purposes, but not plowing,” Annette said, adding there will be a portable steam engine, the kind that would be pulled by horses, on display, which is very rare, and could be the only one of its kind in Canada.
The 1912 M. Rumely steam engine is also rare, Annette said, as it is a twin-cylinder model.
More steam power will also be on display at the sugar shack, which is operated through a steam engine.
The couple is also excited that two horse-drawn wagons will be available for portions of the plowing match, offering a unique way to travel around the farm and fields.
Annette will be doing her best to shine a light on St. Helens with a display on the history of the community and also highlight some of the local, small businesses that people may not even know exist. She said that, with all the different opportunities in the area, there are a number of hidden gems she wants to highlight.
It worked out to host the event on the home farm as wheat had just gone into a field close by when the decision was made, Brian said, and there is infrastructure at the farm that will make the event possible.
An equipment shed will serve as a home for events like the Princess competition and the gala dinner, the two said, while a nearby trail will take visitors from the home and shed to the fields by way of the sugar shack used for maple production. The two said people being able to go by and visit the shack should make for a unique addition to the event.
The MacKenzies are looking forward to inviting friends and family to the event, some of whom will be camping to take it all in.
As far as the farm name, Amalgamation Acres, Annette explained that both she and Brian are now on their second marriage, and when they were wed they each brought a number of properties together, as well as buying some, and amalgamated them into a family farm business.
“It’s mine and hers and all ours,” Brian said.
The name was Annette’s idea, Brian said, as she felt it put a good spin on amalgamation, a term that is sometimes maligned thanks to the political realities of the day. The farms were also in several different townships prior to municipal amalgamation in 2010.
Aside from crops and maple products, the MacKenzies have a store on the farm from which they sell their own products, including freezer meats and handmade items. It will be open the day of the match, Annette said.