Plowing championships

The 2019 World Plowing Competition on Aug. 31 near Baudette, Minn., drew about 7,000 spectators.  Joe Henry / MPR News

BAUDETTE, Minn. — More than 7,000 people turned out to watch the world plowing championship held Labor Day weekend in northern Minnesota.

Scotland won one division and  Switzerland took the title in the other.

There were 53 competitors from 28 countries. Farmers were judged on the depth, straightness and other aspects of their plowing, unaided by GPS or any other electronic guidance. They had to eyeball their routes, guided by sticks at the end of a field.

“This is about an art form. The art of making the perfect row,” said Joe Henry, who helped organize the event.

Henry said farmers and their friends and families from overseas got a good taste of Minnesota hospitality.

“They melded with the people of northern Minnesota,” he said. “We had a blessing of the plow service. They were fed Minnesota hotdish before the Mass. They went walleye fishing.”

Every competitor used pretty much the same old-school-style plow — the kind farmers used in the 1950s.

Some competitors arrived three weeks in advance to practice. Fifty-three Austrians came to cheer on their country’s team.

In the conventional division, the top three finishers were: Andrew Mitchell of Scotland, Eamonn Tracey of Ireland and Gene Gruber of St. Cloud, Minn. Tracey won the title in 2018; Gruber was the 2017 champion.

Tracey shipped his machinery from the Emerald Isle to Baudette in a steel container at a cost of $15,000. His local plowing association picked up the bill.

In the reversible division, Marco Angst of Switzerland won, followed by John Whelan of Ireland and Seren Korsgaard of Denmark.

Russia will host next year's championship.

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