This dog, made out of both round bales and a few smaller, square bales of hay, was my favorite and one of the largest creations we saw. It was located in Chariton at the local lumberyard. The ears were large garbage bags stuffed with some kind of light material and his face and spots were spray painted onto the bales.
This dog, made out of both round bales and a few smaller, square bales of hay, was my favorite and one of the largest creations we saw. It was located in Chariton at the local lumberyard. The ears were large garbage bags stuffed with some kind of light material and his face and spots were spray painted onto the bales.
I know it may surprise quite a few people that I can justify writing two columns from a four-day visit to Iowa a couple of weeks ago. One may wonder what exciting things the "southern" state offers besides stories about my family and friends? Interestingly enough, we discovered hay bale art scattered through the communities and along the highways of Lucas County, the county where my sister and her family live.

Similar to the barn quilt concept, a tour map is created for the county with locations noted for residents and businesses that have created characters, objects or some other design out of bales of hay, both large round bales and smaller square bales.

Lucas County Tourism created the contest last year and they had a tremendous response. More than 600 people voted for their favorite hay creations.

The purpose behind the contest was not only to promote tourism throughout the county, but to also have a fun and entertaining way to celebrate the importance of farm land in the area and get people out to enjoy the fall colors and scenery of the area.

A few fun facts shared about the concept and the contest included the fact that there are more than 22,400 acres of hay and pasture ground in Lucas County.

Whether the "artists" had their own hay or they borrowed hay from local farmers, one of the rules was that all the hay be returned at the end of the contest to be used by the farmers to feed their animals.

Because we were visiting on a Thursday and Friday, the kids and my sister were working, so Mom and Dad and I had to entertain ourselves on Friday. There was lunch with my sister and a homecoming parade in the afternoon, but after breakfast and a quick stop at the local store, we headed out to find a few of the sculptures created nearby.

We went to the Chamber office to get a map, but they had not yet been completed. However, when my mother explained that we were only in town for a few days, the secretary printed out what had been completed, so we could at least have an idea of where we were going in search of the creations. As we drove, we found tractors, animals, an angel. There was a covered wagon, a character from Duck Dynasty and even a doughnut and cup of coffee outside a sheriff's department. A monster truck, spider and even some Minions from the movie "Despicable Me" were scattered across the countryside.

As with all artforms, some were much more creative than others, but it was a fun thing to see and a great idea for a fall driving tour.

If you happen to be traveling south in the next month, the hay bale art will be on display through Nov. 1.

To see all the creations online, one may go to Facebook and search for Lucas County Farm Bureau. More photos from this year's contest are available on the organization's page.

If you are looking for a nice drive closer to home, the barn quilts in Houston County and in northeast Iowa provide a great destination and Harmony Chamber of Commerce has a fall colors driving map that is fun to follow as well.

Even though this past weekend may not have been the ideal time to get out and about, there are still many weeks ahead to get out and enjoy the countryside while we still can. It will be all too soon when the snow falls and we will be more comfortable hibernating inside than driving from community to community.

The fall season is here and there are so many local opportunities to enjoy as the seasons change. Let's have some fun and visit local destinations as much as we can before we get that inevitable snowstorm that causes us to snuggle into our warm houses until spring!