By Michael Bennett,
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Ridgetown Independent
Will Parney recently received one of the highest honours bestowed by the Ontario Plowmen’s Association.
The Ridgetown area farmer was named an OPA Honouree Inductee for his more than 50 years of dedication to the association and the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo.
Parney was presented with his award, which only a select few ever receive, at the recent OPA annual convention in Cobourg.
“It was a very big honour for him and the family. It was really nice,” his wife Linda said.
Parney got his start in plowing in the early 1970s but quickly moved to the administrative side of the sport.
“He tried plowing a couple of times, but that wasn’t for him,” Linda said. “But he loved being a part of everything.”
Parney was involved with the Chatham-Kent Plowing Association and was an OPA Director from 1974 to 1989, including President in 1985.
During that time, Parney played a big role as a director at the 1979 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo held on Maynard Line in Harwich Twp.
He attended but was not a part of the committee at the 2018 IMP in Pain Court.
The entire Parney family has been involved in plowing, as Linda and Will’s daughter Melissa reigned as the Ontario Queen of the Furrow in 1991-92, and daughter Mary was named the Kent County Queen of the Furrow. Their son Jeff also tried his hand at plowing at the Chatham-Kent-hosted IPM.
Parney was a plowing judge for many years and was involved in the Chatham-Kent Plowing Association and the Canadian Plowing Organization.
“We still went to the (IPM) plowing matches after he was off the board if they weren’t too far away,” Linda said. “He still liked to be connected to all of the guys.”
Along with farming and his plowing duties, Parney was also dedicated to the residents of the Ridgetown area as he served as a Howard Township councillor and deputy reeve and also represented Ward 3 East Kent as a councillor on the inaugural Chatham-Kent council in 1998 as he served two terms.