By Rhonda Werner
The wisps of smoke coming from dark fired tobacco barns, the elongation of shadows and the hint of crisp mornings are sure signs of fall here in Western Kentucky, but three years ago, one signal of fall in Todd County became a little more creative.
The Todd County Community Alliance started Todd County’s Bale Trail in 2014, debuting with around 21 hay bale creations. As of last count, the number of registered creations has crept to nearly 50 for 2016.
The Bale Trail is created by individuals or businesses who build various creations out of hay, round bales, square bales, chicken wire stuffed with hay — anything you can create out of hay. Some of the more memorable creations in the past have been minions, Hello Kitty, and Olaf from “Frozen,” just to name a few.
Laura Brock, the Elkton City Clerk and Secretary/Treasurer for the Todd County Community Alliance, is the one who first stumbled upon the Montana Bale Trail idea while researching a trip out west.
“I brought the event to the Community Alliance Board in 2014 and the board loved that it would get the community involved, as well as bring people into Todd County to eat and shop.”
This project also would involve the agriculture community of Todd County, a segment the Alliance had been hoping to reach and involve, as agriculture is a large portion of the county’s economy.
To say it’s been a hit would be an understatement. It has now become a signature county initiative and something everyone looks forward to every year. Not only does it bring tourism to the county, it has brought the community together. Everyone pitches in, helps their neighbor, share’s ideas and many get their whole family involved.
Andrea Howard Jones was one of the initial 21 people who participated in 2014 and has every year since.
“We thought it would be a great activity for the family to do together,” she said.
The first year, Andrea and her family built the letters U and K and a paw print out of hay. She estimates maybe 50 visitors came to their house to see their creation.
“Last year, we used four large round bales and created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I estimated we had over 200 people stop to enjoy the Turtles.”
This year, Andrea and her family capitalized on the Pokemon craze and created a “PokHAYmon Ball” and a “PikHAYchu” and anticipates even more visitors this year.
“It’s been good for bringing in tourists and even having people from Todd County explore their own county,” she said. “I’ve had several people stop by who say they’d never been to Allegre before.”
Tabitha West and her family created their first Bale Trail creation this year, “Spongebob Hay Pants.”
“We decided to do the bale trail this year because our kids always enjoy going and exploring the bale trail, so why not make one of our own,” Tabitha said.
The sentiment from it all is family time, whether building or driving around the county to capture pictures with all the creations. It’s a way to slow things down, step away from the technology and enjoy the countryside.
Businesses have also joined the Bale Trail craze. Banks, nursing homes, engineering firms and hamburger restaurants are just a few that have brought their employees together. The Elkton Post Office has participated the last two years.
Frank Gillespie, Elkton post master, said the employees brain storm for a few months on their creation and then there’s a few crafty postal workers who actually put up their display.
“We like to be a part of the community, and this is just a fun way to participate and be active in our community,” he said.
The Todd County Bale Trail runs from mid-September until the end of October.
To find a map with all the entries, visit the Todd County Alliance website at www.toddcountyca.org. There is also a printout with each creation and a physical address listed.
By Rhonda Werner