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Winners of the 2011 Hay Bale Decorating Contest

FG Editor Lynn Olsen Published on 02 December 2011
Hay bale wedding Jill and Kevin Weber

We had some wonderful entries for the 2nd annual Progressive Forage Grower Hay Bale Decorating Contest, but after the votes have been tallied, we have our top three winners!

First prize goes to Jill and Kevin Weber from Hopkinton, Iowa, for their bride and groom.

 This fun entry was actually a photo taken 12 years ago for their wedding (see photo below).

Bride and Groom hay bales
When her husband was in the military and stationed near Friedberg, Germany, one of the little towns had a tradition to decorate bales any time someone got married.

They took a picture of themselves standing in front of one of them (see original photo above) and decided it would be fun to do the same thing when they got married.

Her mother-in-law painted the faces on cardboard, and Jill and her husband spray-painted the tuxedo for the groom the day before their wedding.

The rest was put together the morning they got married, using lots of tulle and fabric.

It brought rave reviews from friends and neighbors in the community and was even featured in a story in the local newspaper.

Jill and Kevin Weber family
Jill said they still have all the materials stored in their basement and hope to be able to repeat the tradition when each of their four boys (see current family photo at right) get married in the future.

She said they will enjoy spending their Cabella's gift certificate as an anniversary present (they were married at the end of November, so perfect timing)!

Our second place winner is Peck's Farm Market West in Spring Green, Wisconsin, with their impressive John Deere tractor.

The photo was actually submitted by Dee Topel from Lake Mills, Wisconsin after she heard about the contest while attending World Dairy Expo this fall.

John Deere Tractor made of hay
Brad Peck, owner of Peck's Farm Market West, said they enjoy decorating each year for the holidays. Around Halloween they have a haunted house and free wagon rides.

Fresh produce is available throughout the summer at both this location and also Peck's Farm Market East, owned by Brad's brother, just a few miles down the road.

Hay bales aren't the only thing they use to decorate with. Look at this amazing horse-drawn wagon pictured below, with the horse being created from various kinds of pumpkins and squash.

And third place was awarded to Kent and Suzanne Hadley from Swan Lake, Idaho for their giant snowman. They also decorated the Jack 'O Lantern and Turkey hay bales that were entered in the contest.

Pumpkin and squash horse by Peck's Farm and Market
Suzanne said they have been decorating hay bales for close to 20 years. They first started when they swiched from square bales to the large rounds and she said, "You know, when you look at those round bales the creative juices began to flow."

The Hadley's first bale ever decorated was the turkey, followed by the pumpkin and a snowman. In the early days, the snowman's hat was three small bales sitting on a plank, but they said "it was hard to keep them up in the wind so we designed the wooden hat that could anchor better."

Suzanne said their earliest snowman "was flocked with flocking we used to flock Christmas trees, but when it was no longer available we used spray paint."

Frosty the snowman hay bales
She also said "One year early on, the snowman was set afire by vandals and since it sat so close to our home, we decided that we would have to discontinue doing the hay bales."

"Many of the folks in our community insisted it was part of our community traditions and encouraged us to rebulid Frosty and not let that act of vandalism spoil it for us. So we rebuilt and haven't had any problems since. Frosty has been put on Christmas cards in in local newspapers on many occasions."

"The reason we keep doing it is because of all the folks who either top by or send us cards indicating their appreciation. If you can bring a smile to a passerby, it makes it all worth it." 

A very special "thank you" to all of those that entered the contest this year. It's always so fun to see the creativity that goes into these, and your efforts to not only decorate but also submit them to the contest are appreciated!

We'll be looking forward to seeing the entries next year!

Need some inspiration for an idea in 2012? Visit some of these sites online:

Montana Bale Trail - 2011 Adult Entries
Montana Bale Trail - 2011 Children Entries
Nebraska State Fair
Killington Hay Festival
Urban Spotlight San Antonio
Pike Road Community Press  FG

 Jill and Kevin Weber near Friedburg, Germany. Photo courtesy of Jill Weber.
SECOND: "Bride and Groom" - winning entry in the 2011 Progressive Forage Grower Hay Bale Decorating Contest. Photo courtesy of Jill Weber.
THIRD: The Weber family today. Photo courtesy of Jill Weber and "An Unforgettable Memory Photo and Design
FORTH: "John Deere Tractor" –  second place entry in the 2011 Progressive Forage Grower Hay Bale Decorating Contest. Photo courtesy of Brad Peck, Peck's Farm and Market West, and Dee Topel.
FIFTH: Pumpkin and squash horse created by Peck's Farm and Market. Photo courtesy of Brad Peck, Peck's Farm and Market West, and Dee Topel.
SIXTH: "Frosty" – third place entry in the 2011 Progressive Forage Grower Hay Bale Decorating Contest. Photo courtesy of Kent and Suzanne Hadley.