On Sept. 24, Ontario Queen of the Furrow Laura Price will hand over the crown to a new queen, ending her year-long reign with the Ontario Plowmen's Association (OPA).
The 23-year-old Simcoe County native said that while she's looking forward to having more time, she's also going to miss the role.
"I have mixed emotions about it," she said. "It's been fun, I've met a lot of people, and it's almost like having another family with the OPA people and everything, but it's been extremely busy, and almost like another job. This past month and the upcoming weeks, it's actually like another part-time, almost a full-time job, so it will be a bit of a relief when it's done. But in another sense, it'll be kind of sad."
Price works as a sales representative for Cargill, selling seed, fertilizer and crop protection products to farmers and giving agronomic advice.
She graduated last year from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science and Agriculture and Certificate of Business.
She was crowned Queen of the Furrow for Simcoe County in 2013, and competed in her first Ontario competition when the International Plowing Match (IPM) was held in Simcoe last year.
"My neighbour is on the OPA, and when the IPM was coming to Simcoe County he asked me if I would run for Queen of the Furrow for Simcoe County. He'd asked me when I was 16, but I was busy with other things and didn't think it was for me. But then he asked me again and said it would be really great if you won, I think you'd be a great representative for Simcoe County when the plowing match is here. So I kind of did it as a favour for my neighbour," she laughed. "But my whole family was involved in the IPM in one way or another. My parents and my aunts and uncles were all on different committees. So this was how I got involved, and I ended up winning."
Price grew up on a small cash crop farm, and did Dairy 4-H.
"That's how I really developed my passion for agriculture," she said.
Because an Ontario Queen can only hold the position for one year, Price won't be competing at this year's IPM. Instead, while the other contestants are doing their interviews and speeches as part of the competition, Price will be walking the grounds of the IPM and doing PR work for the OPA.
For the past year, Price has acted as ambassador for the OPA. She has travelled extensively throughout the province, attending various OPA events and promoting the upcoming IPM in Finch. She was also an ambassador for agriculture and women in agriculture.
"In the fall, I was guest speaker at a few different events. I spoke about the Queen of the Furrow Program, about agriculture, nd at one event, I spoke about women in agriculture," she said. "It's been a great experience. I've travelled all across Ontario, going to local plowing matches, I was in parades, I went to IPM events. I've met tons of different people across the province, so I've made a lot of connections and networking opportunities. It's also been a great way to develop my public speaking and communication skills."
When asked what words of wisdom she would pass on to her fellow queens competing for the Ontario crown this month, she said, "when we went to the OPA convention in March, I told the girls, just be yourself and have fun with it.' It takes up quite a bit of your time, but it's something you'll never forget. You're going to meet a lot of people and go to a lot of events and build upon all the skills that they look for on a resumé. It's definitely a resumé-builder, that's for sure."
She said this doesn't just apply to the Ontario Queen.
"Even at the local level, you're still going to local fairs and parades and events, and you may be asked to speak. You're still an ambassador, so you're developing those kinds of skills," she said.
She added that just because the title is Queen of the Furrow, doesn't mean a contestant has to be a master at plowing in order to compete.
"Some of the girls have never plowed before, so having to know how to plow is not necessary. Some girls are intimidated to run for Queen of the Furrow because they don't know how to plow, but it's not a requirement because you have a plow coach," she said. "So if there's someone who wants to run, you shouldn't be shy just because you don't know how to plow. I drove tractors when I was growing up but I didn't plow."