WEST UNION, Ohio – The World Conservation Exposition and Plowing Contests were held in Peebles, Ohio, in Adams County Sept. 17-20, 1957.
It was the first time the event was ever held in the United States. In all, 14 countries from across the globe participated in the contest, with 20 countries being represented.
Approximately 250,000 people were in attendance during those four days, making it the single largest event ever held in Adams County.
Sixteen landowners who combined their farms to obtain the 2,500 acres necessary to host the event. Because Peebles was a small rural town with no lodging facilities, local residents opened their homes to provide beds and meals for the contestants and their families who had traveled from all over the world to compete.
Flights. The International Harvester Co. cleared land, dug ponds and built a 3,500 feet airstrip. The Ohio State Highway Patrol acted as air traffic controllers and reported an averaged 200 flights per day used the runway during the four days.
Unveiled at the event was the “Cairn of Peace,” a monument of brick and stone that was constructed at the site as a symbol of world unity. On top the monument was a replica of a 17th century Holland plow, which was forged locally by an 81-year-old blacksmith from Ash Ridge, in neighboring Brown County.
Several years later the monument was moved to the center of Peebles where it now stands.
Earl K. DeVore, chairman of the 1957 World Conservation and Exposition event, was from the nearby town of Winchester. He was also chairman of the Adams County Soil and Water Conservation District during that time. DeVore chose Peebles because of its central location and the availability of farmland suitable for the plowing match.
Peebles was considered to be easily accessible from Columbus, Cincinnati, and Lexington, Ky. The population of Peebles in 1957 was less than 2,000, but swelled to over 200,000 people during the peak of the event.
Winners. The 1957 event was won by William DeLint, from the Netherlands. The United States, represented by Lawrence Goettemoeller, finished ninth.
The public is invited to the village of Peebles, which will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of this event with a celebration Aug. 17-18 on the Peebles High School grounds, located south of Peebles on state Route 41.
The celebration starts off with a banquet Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m. which will include members of the 1957 World Plowing Contests, participants, and the queen of the event, Ann Lane Schaffner, who will be a guest speaker.
Tickets for the banquet are $20 and can be purchased by calling 937-587-2043.
Day of fun. Opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. Aug. 18, followed by plowing demonstrations and a parade of farm equipment, tractors and plows that have competed in state, national, and international plowing contests.
There will also be a kiddie tractor pull, a 1950’s style show, a band concert, and a showing of pre-1957 farm equipment. There will also be a quilt show, memorabilia displays, merchant displays, dining facilities, food, souvenirs, and much more.
There is no charge for the Aug. 18 events.
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