Big Rock Plow Match is a step back in time
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media September 13, 2012 10:58AM
Big Rock Plowing Match Fest
♦ Sept. 14-16
♦ 48W508 Hinckley Road, Big Rock
♦ (630) 556-3171
Updated: September 13, 2012 10:58AM
Back in 1894, after a long day in the fields and a few beverages, Big Rock’s farmers would begin to boast about their skills behind the plow.
They would celebrate the harvest with a feast and a contest to see who could plow the straightest furrow with their team of horses, along with other skills necessary for farming. In 2012, 118 years later, the object is still the same at the Big Rock Plowing Match Fest.
The fest runs from 5:15 to 9:30 p.m. today, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The plowing match allows competitors to show their ability to make the straightest and cleanest furrow, while covering up strewn trash.
“The event is like a step back in time,” said board member Sandy Carr. “There’s a carnival, and there’s children’s game like three-legged races and ring toss.”
There’s a junior fair where children ages 3 through 14 can enter what they’ve drawn, sewn, photographed, baked, built or crafted, she said.
The Ladies’ Fair showcases hand-made creations like sewing, knitting, crocheting, canning, baking, photography, cross-stitch, needlepoint and more for display and judging, she said.
Other contests include a watermelon eating contest, horseshoe tournament and a round barrel roll-off.
There’s a horse show on Saturday and a beef show Sunday, and throughout the weekend a craft, art and antique show will be running.
“The backbone of (the fest) is the plowing competition,” she said.
These aren’t the John Deere tractors of today, either — these are smaller tractors pulling a single plow blade. There are usually around 25 who compete.
“Last year there was a man from South Dakota who drive all the way and competed on Sunday,” she said. “Because there just aren’t many events like this anymore in the country.”
“It’s a very comfortable place for families to come with their children,” she said. “They don’t have to be grasping their hands at every second because it’s a very safe place to be.”
Live music will be provided by a DJ on Friday and a group called the Wooden Rockers will be playing Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m.
If you get hungry, head to the lunch stand where they’re serving up hamburgers, brats, nachos and desserts. A few food trucks will offer traditional fair food like cotton candy, funnel ears, lemon shake-ups and caramel apples.
Maintenance and upkeep on the buildings has hurt the Plow Match, she said.
“It’s an event that is struggling to stay alive,” she admitted. “It’s been difficult but we’re trying to keep it going.”