National plowing competition in Abbotsford

Two local brothers are among 16 competitors from across Canada.

Philip Graham (left) and his brother Andrew of Abbotsford are competing this weekend in the Canadian Plowing Championships.

Philip Graham (left) and his brother Andrew of Abbotsford are competing this weekend in the Canadian Plowing Championships.

As far as championships go, this one is pretty laid-back.

Even competitor Philip Graham admits he won’t feel much stress when he takes to the field for the 61st annual Canadian Plowing Championships, which started Wednesday in Abbotsford.

“I’ll just go out and plow and see how it goes,” the 22-year-old said on Tuesday between breaks in practising for the competition.

Philip and his brother, Andrew, 18, are the only two Abbotsford residents participating in the event. They earned their spots after winning at the senior and junior levels, respectively, at the provincials.

They hope to advance to the world competition taking place in France in September 2014.

Plowing is in their blood. The two grew up on their family’s dairy farm, which their grandfather started on Dixon Road on Sumas Prairie, and both now work there full-time.

They became interested in competing five years ago, after having viewed a plowing championship the previous year.

“We just thought we’d give it a shot,” Philip said.

Each brother has previously placed second in the junior level of the nationals.

They admit that a plowing competition might seem a bit odd to outsiders, but they enjoy the challenge.

Competitors have three hours to plow a plot of land, and three pairs of judges score their work.

“Straightness is a big thing … Also, everything has to be uniform. You want each furrow to look the same as the one before,” Philip said.

He said he enjoys the challenge of tweaking the plow and making the necessary adjustments to perfect his work – and, hence, his score.

Competitors plow one plot of land each day. Yesterday was a practice day, and the contest contest runs over two days (Thursday and Friday) for juniors and three days (Thursday to Saturday) for seniors.

The scores for each day are totalled to determine the winners.

This year’s event welcomes 16 competitors from five provinces. There are three other B.C. participants – Jim Mar from Saanich and Gene Sache and Francis Sache from Rosedale.

The remainder are from Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.

The event takes place on the fields at Rose Gate Dairy Farms, located at 33775 Aish Rd. (at Fore Road and Highway 11). Admission to the public is $5 (free for kids under 12).

Also included are horse plowing demos, an antique tractor pull, daily entertainment and a display of vintage tractor and farm equipment. For more information, visit canadianplowing.ca.