What The Hay – Building An Entry

The Russell Country board has painted haybales for the What The Hay event for quite a few years now. The event is held the first Sunday after Labor Day. What began as a spoof between two neighbors has grown into one of Montana’s most unique events.

Decorated haybales dot the landscape between Windham, Utica and Hobson, Montana, about 25 paved miles through beautiful farm and ranch country. The event is a great showcase of Montana’s agricultural roots.

Bale entries are basically in two different categories – sculpted bales or stacked bales. We have only done a sculpted entry once. For the last few years we have been pretty consistent in putting out a Welcome to Russell Country! grouping of bales. Hey, someone has to put out the Welcome mat!

Today’s work party found out that is was a bit damp – downright rainy – but that didn’t curb the enthusiasm, the nonstop cre-hay-tive  jokes and the fun had in painting bales.

And, after a challenge was issued to the two advertising agencies Russell Country works with (Banik Communications and Wendt, both in Great Falls) an entry from them appeared alongside the traditional Russell Country entry.

Stacking of the bales takes some cre-hay-tivity, at least enough to count how many bales are needed and how they are stacked.

Tucker and Stacey Hughes from Stanford were in charge of getting bales moved to the right place on John Huberti’s donated acreage.

Board members who became bale-painting-artists included Carol Ann Schaeffer, Ralph Corbett, Randy Morger, Carol Lindseth, Audie Bancroft and Ron Young.

As we drove home from a soggy painting day we saw quite a few bales stacked pretty creatively. It will be interesting to see what these bale stacks will become.

The Friends of the Hobson Library is the group organizing the event this year. A website called MontanaBaleTrail.com has been developed with educational videos, photos of past entries and information about the history of this event. You can spend a lot of time on this website.

Travelocity has sent their gnome for the What The Hay this year. Rumor has it that he/she was building a bale entry today but we didn’t see him/her. As we were painting, I’m sure I heard a cowboy in the distance singing “Gnome, Gnome on the Range” though.

Here’s the final photo of the Russell Country artists in front of their creation. A stunning group, a stunning bale creation.

Be sure to go to the What The Hay this Sunday, September 12. If you can’t get there on Sunday you’ll miss the chance to vote and to visit the Utica Day craft fair but the entries are usually up for about a week. A lovely evening drive through beautiful countryside could be just the ticket for a lazy fall evening next week.

Enjoy the fun in central Montana!




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