This hay bale display is from the 2020 contest. The 2021 contest is accepting applications until Nov. 1.

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Committee is welcoming individuals and organizations to take part in its annual Hay Bale Decorating Contest.

For seven years, the committee has encouraged Virginians to highlight their love for agriculture through imaginative and innovative hay bale displays.

“It’s great to get people together and have fun with it,” said Julia Stephens, New River district leader for the VFBF Women’s Leadership Committee. “Hay is a major commodity here, and it gets people in a conversation who might otherwise not think about farming or how prevalent it is. They’ll see one and realize, ‘Oh, we’re in farm country.’”

Applications are being accepted through Nov. 1. The contest is open to anyone, including county Farm Bureaus, farmers markets, farm supply businesses, student groups, community associations and individuals.

Entrants can showcase their ingenuity by converting round or square bales into animals, structures, shapes and farmscapes. Other items such as corn stalks, pallets and pumpkins can be used alongside bales to create various scenes.

Guidelines and an entry form are available at bit.ly/3icRJqx

Participants are required to include a photograph of the decorated hay bale display with an application.

There are five classes: best promotional display for agriculture business or commodity; best promotional display for community spirit; most creative; best agricultural theme; and best agribusiness, FFA, 4-H or school display. Winners will be selected in each category and receive a cash award.

Winners will be notified by mail, and hay bale photo entries will be displayed at the 2021 VFBF Annual Convention in Williamsburg Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.

Last year’s contest received 40 submissions. Winning entries included a hay bale honeybee encouraging people to “Bee a friend to pollinators;” a scene celebrating community spirit by honoring first responders; a tractor made of hay bales; and two creative 4-H displays featuring a hay bale cow and a farmer made of straw.

The displays are meant to create a lasting impression and typically are placed near schools, outside of banks, at county Farm Bureau offices and in people’s yards.

“We’ve had people stop by and say, ‘We can’t wait to see what you’re going to put up this year,’” said Joan Talley, a member of the Fluvanna County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, which participates in the contest every year. “We strive to bring awareness by promoting community service, agriculture and Farm Bureau. It lets people know that we’re not just another business along the road.”


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