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The 41th Annual Howell Farm Plowing Match

Saturday, August 31| 10:00–4:00

Children's Craft: Horse Tail Ribbon (11:00–3:00)

Today’s plowing kicks off a 10-month growing season for Howell Farm’s fall crops: wheat, rye, barley, and the old-fashioned “bearded wheat” known as spelt. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and planting in late September...but luckily the neighbors are here to help out!

Plowing is the first step in “working up” the soil into a seedbed where the fall crops will be planted. Loosening the compacted layer of soil lets in water and air, while also burying weeds and other organic material as fertilizer. 

When the match is over, our farmers will finish the field by joining the “lands” that the contestants plowed. Next they’ll “pack” down the plowed field with a horse-drawn roller, and slice up remaining dirt clods with a harrow. Finally, the horses will drag a plank across the loose soil to flatten it before planting the field with a grain drill. Fall crops will be harvested next July using a horse-drawn reaper-binder, before they are threshed with help from a steam engine and finally ground into flour.

Morning Events & Activities

6:00–9:00 | Arrival of Farmers & Teams (Lower Round Pasture) 

Unloading, cleaning, and harnessing of teams.

7:00–10:00 | Warm-up Period & Judges’ Meeting (West Crop Fields) 

Fine Plowing contestants “ground-drive” their horses to settle them before the match.

10:00–11:45 | Fine Plowing (West Crop Fields) 

Teamsters are evaluated on the quality of plowing by Head Judge Button Myers, Jr. of Landisburg, PA, with additional scoring by Field Judges Elvin Lapp of Kinzers, PA and Barbara Corson, VMD, of Dauphin, PA.

10:30–12:00 | Exhibition Hitch Demonstrations(West Crop Fields)

10:30–12:00 | Novice Plowing (West Crop Fields) 

Try your hand at plowing! Sign up at 10:15 with Head Judge Pam Flory.

11:00–12:00 | Old Timer Plowing (West Crop Fields) 

If you know how to plow but came without horses, here’s your chance! Sign up at 10:15 with Head Judge Rob Flory of Howell Farm. You’ll have two veteran draft horses as your team.

Afternoon Events & Activities

12:00–2:00 | Lunch Break  (Farmhouse Front Lawn)

1:15 p.m.  | Presentation of Plowing Awards (Upper Round Pasture Gate)

2:00–3:30 | Obstacle Course Driving (Upper Round Pasture) 

Teamsters are judged on driving precision and control as they maneuver a wagon through a series of turns and obstacles. Head Judge: Barbara Corson, VMD.

3:45 | Presentation of Obstacle Course Awards (Upper Round Pasture Gate)

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Howell Farm is owned by the County of Mercer and operated by the Mercer County Park Commission

Dan Benson, Mercer County Executive

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