This Week in Sapulpa History: The Plowing Contest of 1924

Rachel Whitney, Curator,
Sapulpa Historical Museum

“The prize winners of the first plowing contest were…”

This week in Sapulpa history, it was announced on November 27, 1924, that Creek County would stage the first plowing contest in the state. For two days, on local farms, farmers will join their try in the “new farming feature where every Creek County farmer should witness the terracing demonstrations.”

Sapulpa Herald, November 27, 1924

The most skilled plowmen in the County were ready to compete for prizes. Not only local farmers were joining in on the action. A&M College in Stillwater (later known as Oklahoma State University) head of departments and county agents would be appearing in the first-ever plowing contest. The state extension farm engineer, head of the department of agricultural engineering, dean of agriculture and head of the experimental farm, and the president of A&M College were keynote speakers and participants.

It was encouraged for other county agents to join in, such as Muskogee, Okfuskee, and several other counties. It was also a way to engage with other farmers. “State engineers will be there to give valuable information on farm engineering problems – plowing, drainage, farm buildings, farm machinery, farm lighting, plants, sewage disposal, fence building, and many other farm problems.”

“‘This is the first contest of the kind ever put on in the state, and its success will show the interest in farming. They will find plowing today different from that of a good many years ago,’” stated the county agent, E.A. Kissick. Kissick was the organizer for the occasion.

The contest was scheduled for December 8 and 9, 1924. The first day of the contest would be held at J.B. White’s farm, near Iron Post, just 8 miles south of Bristow. The second day of the contest would be held on Max Meyer’s farm, just west of Sapulpa, on the state highway between Sapulpa and Kellyville.

“Any kind of a plow or team, driven by anyone living in Creek County may enter.” Men and boys of 16 and older participated in the contest. It was said that the walking plow with two horses or mules would be the best in the contest. 

County Democrat News, December 4, 1924

“‘Whether you can plow or not, come and bring your friends with you and watch other fellows win the prizes – several worthwhile prizes and ribbons to be awarded. A lot of fun – and maybe we will all be benefitted by the day’s experience,’” Kissick suggested.

Prizes and food were being donated by Bristow and Sapulpa merchants. Merchants such as Bristow Retail Merchants’ Association, Ford Motor Company, Grimes & Co. Furniture, Morton H. House Implement Co., Groom Hardware Co., Stone Hardware Co., Bristow Weekly Record, and many others.

Prizes were given to the five winning contestants, with the top three also receiving prize ribbons. The top five were given at least $35 each*.

*Note: the newspaper did not specify if each received $35, or if there was a top-tier amount for the first prize versus the fifth-place contestant. In 1924, $35 would be roughly $600 today.

“The best plowing speed is 200 feet per minute for nearly all makes of walking plow and the work begins to grow ragged when we pass 220 feet per minute.” In good weather, the plowing would be easier. On the first day at White’s farm, the weather was “fair, not so cold.” However, on the second day of the contest, at Max Meyer’s farm, “somewhat colder,” and “owing to the bad weather, little was accomplished at the contest” unfortunately.

“The prize winners of the first plowing contest were: first, F.G. Vanarsdale; second, J.P. Smith; third, Mr. Phillipy; fourth, O.M. Piatt; fifth, S.R. Daugherty.”

It was a huge success. The town came together to support the farmers and to take notes from the A&M College speakers. “From all indications of the interest taken by all present at the first plowing contest, County Agent E.A. Kissick is preparing for a greater event next year.*”

Sapulpa Herald, December 13, 1924

*Note: in research, there is no indication the Creek County plowing contest continued; there were various contests over the years, but was not designated as a plowing contest or the second annual contest.

“All of the men did an exceptionally good job of plowing and far above the average plowing done the country over.”