Annual bale-decorating contest attracts creative entries
Ordinary hay bales became elaborate yard art last week at the Leavenworth County Fair.
Propped inside the fairgrounds just north of Kansas Highway 16, five entries were on display as part of the fair's hay bale decorating competition.
Organizer Anne Johnson of Leavenworth's Boling 4-H club said the field provided a wide array of themes.
"I thought they were fantastic," Johnson said. "Very imaginative.
"I liked the idea of not following the fair theme because people can use their imagination more."
Taking first in Class A was "Have Fun Horsin' Around at the Fair," entered by Fairplay Farms, a horseback riding school in Leavenworth.
With a wooden head and neck, the hay bale came to life. Strands of sunflowers were draped around the "horse" and a teddy bear wearing an equestrian outfit sat atop the bale. The bear wore something of an English hunter jumper fashion, which many of the students at the school wear.
Smaller clumps of hay served as the horse's hooves with inner tubes from black tires fixed to them. Baling twine was painted black to instantly become the horse's mane and tail.
Charlie and Michelle Gray, who own Fairplay Farms, had some students who took an interest in the decorating competition.
Diane Brown, whose daughter takes instruction and boards her horse at Fairplay, said the project had many contributors.
"It got a little detailed and out of control, but they had fun working on it," Brown said.
With the Class A first-place finish, the horse advances to the Kansas State Fair, set for Sept. 10 to 19 in Hutchinson.
Brown said the horse would be entered at state. New bales will be provided -- the entrants need only bring their props, Johnson said.
The Grays' sons had hogs and several birds earn reserve or grand champion distinction, Brown said, so the family will have other reasons to attend the fair in Hutchinson.
In Class B, first place went to Boling 4-H for its "4-H Builds a Strong Foundation" entry. With square bales decorated as the three little pigs and the wolf, square bales also were used to assemble the front of the pigs' home, with a window and "brick" made of red plastic paper.
Class B includes entries that do not use square bales as supports for round bales. Although the Boling 4-H won first place, Class B winners do not advance to the state fair.
A root beer float-themed entry finished second in Class A.
Brown spray-painted cardboard surrounded the round bale with cotton topping the "float" off. The entry also had a cardboard "straw" and "handle."
The "S'more fun with 4-H" entry, submitted by Livewires 4-H, was third premium in Class A. Square bales were set up to represent a chocolate bar and a graham cracker.
One was covered in black plastic with the words "Livewire," while a round hay bale representing the marshmallow was surrounded by cardboard painted to depict flames. A pitchfork was stuck in the top of the bale.
The fifth entry was "Discovering New Frontiers Through 4-H." Happy Hollow 4-H'ers submitted the entry, which looked like a boat with a scarecrow doll inside.
This is the second year the hay bale competition has been at the Leavenworth County Fair.
Johnson said she hopes a higher number of entries come each year and stressed that anyone can enter decorated hay bales, not just 4-H groups.