State Plowing Contest returns to Marshall County

Holl to host event for second consecutive year

T-R FILE PHOTO Monroe Miller of Kalona comes to the end of a furrow in the 2016 Iowa Plowing Association’s State Plowing Contest held in Marshall County last August. The 2017 contest returns to Marshall County on Saturday, Aug. 19 on land farmed by Kevin Holl on Underwood Avenue.

Residents from Iowa and the surrounding states will have the chance to see a lost art once again on Aug. 19 as Marshall County hosts the 2017 Iowa Plowing Association’s State Contest for the second consecutive year.

According to Kevin Holl, host for the event and Iowa Plowing Association member, the contest will be held this year at 1252 Underwood Avenue (just south of Highway 96) in northern Marshall County. The event will begin at 10 a.m. The public is invited to come and watch the contestants compete for the right to go on to the National Plowing competition in 2018, which is scheduled to be held in Minnesota.

The state contest is an annual event of the Iowa Plowing Association which has been organized since 1975. However it was noted that plowing competitions have been going on nationwide since the early 1900s.

Holl said the event will be held in three classes.

The antique class is for tractors older than 1938, and an open class where a contestant can plow with anything except a professional competition plow. These contests each last 75 minutes. The small plow division is the class that competes in the world competition. In this class the opening split is noticeably different from the antique and open class and they have 20 minutes to make that split — with the entire competition for that class lasting three hours.

There is also a class for reversible plows, but once again this year Holl said there is no entries in that particular class.

“Straightness is the key,” Holl said. “The judges will judge on straightness, uniformity and the completeness of the cut — with no grass, stubble or weeds showing.”

Each contestant in the antique or open class will plow 1/4- acre that is 264 feet long by 40 feet wide. The small plow division plows a plot 264 feet by 55 feet.

Other rules are for the crown to be level and have prominent depressions; for the soil to be firmly packed; and for the furrows to be uniform and parallel from end to end. No GPS systems are allowed. A perfect score would be 170 in the small plow division, with 150 the perfect score in the antique and open classes.

But contestants have to watch out for penalties from the judges. These penalties include -10 for finishing on the wrong end; -5 per ever minute overtime; up to -10 points for improper depth; up to -10 points for extra wheel tracks; and up to -20 points for any manipulation of the plot, plowing or illegal use of equipment.

Last year 10 contestants competed, and Holl said he is hoping for at least 12-15 competitors this year. The Iowa Plowing Association has about 40-50 registered members, according to Holl.

Holl said this is the fourth time he can remember of a state competition being held in the area. He said Conrad hosted the event in 1980 and in the 1990s before he hosted it in 2016.

Mike Fitz of Melbourne will become the new president of the Iowa Plowing Association taking over for Dave Postlethwait of Springville who is retiring from that position due to illness.

Holl encourages the public to come watch and said if there is any persons interested in joining the plowing association and entering competition, information on how to do so will be available the day of the contest or by calling him at (641) 751-4646.