A closer look reveals something else rising out of the fields along the 21-mile stretch of highway that connects the towns of Hobson and Windham.
A sea monster, aliens, superheroes, rock stars... it's the annual “Montana Bale Trail – What the Hay!” Day.
What began as a friendly contest between neighbors who decorated some of their bales 23 years ago has evolved into a major attraction bringing people from across the state and country to view the imaginative “bale art” of the local farmers and ranchers.
This year more than 50 creations lined the out-of-the-way highway, drawing over 6,000 viewers on Sunday, Sept. 9.
Ness-Hay, the Loch Ness Monster loomed out of a sea of stubble; a green Hay-lian was Hay-bducting a cow; Donk-Hay Kong guarded a pasture and the Incredi-Bale Hulk surprised many passerby.
Local “artists” ranging in age from 6 to 90 used several tons of straw and hay as well as what must add up to miles of twine and wire – not to mention countless gallons of paint, to create their funny, imaginative and sometimes very realistic works of bale art.
For a number of local families, building bales has become a multi-generational tradition.
The 2012 People’s Favorite was “Medus-Hay” an intricate 20-foot-tall hay interpretation of the mythical, snake-haired gorgon.
The day also offers a hay maze where a person can lose themselves among an intricate pattern of over 250 large round bales.
The Friends of the Hobson Library and the Montana Bale Trail organizers operate the maze, as well the Midway Caf-Hay where people can take a break from the road to enjoy food and some entertainment.
At Hobson and Utica, a flea market and craft fair offer unique merchandise and entertainment for Bale Trail travelers.
Montana’s “Michelangelos of the field” have returned to being farmers and ranchers but their imaginations and creativity are already at work on next year’s bale creations.
Held each year the Sunday following Labor Day, the 2013 What the Hay Contest will be on Sept. 8.
Click here to view current and past creations as well as other hay day events and activities. FG
—From Montana Bale Trail press release
TOP: The 2012 People’s Favorite was Medus-Hay.
MIDDLE: The Incredi-Bale Hulk.
BOTTOM: A green Hay-lian. Photos courtesy of Montana Bale Trail.