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CENTREVILLE, MI -- Autumn is the time to consider using fall ornamentals and produce within the decorating themes. Outdoor displays of gourds, pumpkins, and squashes is quite inspiring while shocks of cornstalks present some nostalgia. Jack-o-lanterns are still a popular idea but with some twists on the original. And then there are the hay bales.
Across the country, hay bales are making appearances on the sides of the roads, both country lanes and highways. But these are not just any bales. People have taken to painting them and creating ‘sculptures’ out of them. Many pictures have been posted on the Internet celebrating the creative ideas used on these humble farm products.
Some fairs have also come to recognize the interest in the hay bale art and offer opportunities for people to display their creations and win money and prizes. St. Joseph County (MI) Grange Fair has joined the growing movement by offering a contest during the fair and the inaugural event was full of surprises and great sculptures.
The fair board had decided to introduce a new contest that anyone could enter. They encouraged groups, clubs, and individuals to participate. The entries were to be set up and stabilized by the exhibitors with some assistance from fair volunteers. All the entries were created the week before fair and judged just before opening day. Money was on the line with amounts of $25 to $100 available for the best displays.
Five were created for the 2018 St. Joseph County Grange Fair and they were displayed on ‘Tractor Alley’, where the tractor and implement dealers are located. Thanks to those businesses and their generous spirit, the contest was a success. Several of them were willing to share space with the sculptures, giving up room for their products.
Each entry was created with a variety of round and square bales of different sizes. Most used paint while some also utilized extra accessories to make their creation. For example, the Centreville (MI) FFA chapter made a green tractor with a real steering wheel and engine pipe. The Courageous K-9s 4-H Club used black paint to create a face on their dog head sculpture.
Accessories made the turkey display as the participants cut out a head and tail feathers for their exhibit. A rider was seated on the top of a ‘hay bale’ bull for another sculpture.
A very original teddy bear was made of several large round bales used to create the legs, body and head with smaller square units as ears and arms.
These few ideas kicked off the newest event at the fair. Many more are available online so park those old bales by the side of the road and thrill friends and neighbors with your own creation.

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