Hay bale decorating contest in full swing

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

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Showcasing creativity and sparking conversations about agriculture are the aim of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Committee’s annual Hay Bale Decorating Contest.

Now in the contest’s ninth year, the committee is encouraging communities and individuals to embrace their imaginations and tell a story through decorative hay bale displays.

“I love to see how creative they are,” said Julia Stephens, a District 3 representative on the VFBF Women’s Leadership Committee. “The displays remind the non-farming community about local farmers and promote a healthy relationship within their communities.”

Entries will be accepted Sept. 1 through Nov. 15. The contest is open to anyone, including farmers markets, farm supply businesses, student groups, community associations, individuals and county Farm Bureaus.

Decorators can demonstrate their artistic ingenuity by converting round or square bales into animals, structures, shapes and farmscapes. Items such as corn stalks, farm tools, pallets, pumpkins and other props can be used alongside bales to create various scenes.

Guidelines and an entry form are available at bit.ly/3KC08TE. Participants must include a photograph of the hay bale display with each application.

Winners will be selected and receive a cash award in the following categories: junior (8 and younger); square bale display; community spirit; and most creative. This year also will have a special themed category, “Stars of Agriculture,” in which participants are invited to decorate hay bales like celebrities or agricultural figures — real or fictional.

“I anticipate the big reveal of all the entries,” Stephens added. “I applaud and appreciate all the effort that goes into them.”

The displays generate a lasting impression and typically are placed in visible areas near schools, outside of businesses, at county Farm Bureau offices and in people’s yards.

Winners will be notified by email or phone. Photos of contest entries will be displayed at the 2023 VFBF Annual Convention in Virginia Beach in late November.

Last year’s contest received 46 entries, with displays encompassing farm animals, horticulture, farm life, farm machinery and farm safety. Past winning entries featured farmers “Dancing Through the Seasons of Life”; a Halloween-themed Count Dracula proclaiming, “You can Count on Farmers”; a farm-fresh bacon and eggs breakfast noting “Page County is Fueled by Farming”; and a combine made of round and square bales.