A soggy start to the International Plowing Match in Roseville.

Between 20-30mm of rain fell early in the day, sending organizers and volunteers scrambling. Muddy conditions caused problems in the parking fields and forced the cancellation of the parade through the tented city. A leaking water pipe at one of the gates caused flooding, and organizers closed it to traffic.

Mid-afternoon, organizers made the decision to no longer accept guests through the entrance gates.

“We have decided to limit entry into the IPM and Rural Expo so that people who are already onsite can safely exit through the fields that have become a wet and muddy terrain,” said Paul Buttinger, Chair for the IPM Media Committee.

Attendees already inside the gates were told they could stay until closing time.

In its 99-year history, the International Plowing Match has been cancelled only once. That was back in 1954, when Hurricane Hazel touched down in southern Ontario, damaging the tent city.

All three major party leaders braved the rain and mud to attend the Opening Ceremonies. Premier Dalton McGuinty, Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath each took turns speaking the crowd.

The premier took advantage of the gathering to announce a new program that will encourage people to buy more locally-grown food. “[We’ll] sit down with the big chains and figure out what we can do working together to make sure that every time you go into a store… there are foods marked Ontario, locally grown.”

McGuinty says if families dedicated an extra $10 of their weekly foods budgets to buying Ontario products, it would generate $2.4 billion in economic activity and create 10,000 new jobs.

“I think the Ontario government should do its part to promote local products by having a Buy Ontario policy,” said Hudak. “We’ve pushed it for years.”

Andrea Horwath also voiced her support. “Most Ontarians would say they want to continue to see rural Ontario thrive. They want to continue to see local food available.”