ABOUT THE TRAIL
Montana Bale Trail
"What the Hay"
by Cowboy Andy
The “What the Hay” (Montana Bale Trail) is organized by The Friends of the Hobson Library/Museum and sponsored by local businesses and private individuals. It is held annually on the first Sunday following Labor Day in conjunction with the Utica Day Fair. This truly unique event features “am-hayzingly” creative and (most often) quite amusing sculptures made of hay and straw.
Beginning in 1990, “What they Hay” has grown from a friendly, tongue-in-cheek, competition between two neighboring ranchers into a full-blown, major tourist attraction. In 2003, it was named Montana’s Tourism Event of the Year, and last year-the twentieth anniversary edition-saw over 50 beautifully sculpted entries.
Numerous television spots and countless print media articles in newspapers and magazines ranging from local papers to national publications like People and Sunset have featured this rather unusual and eye-popping event. Although local farmers and ranchers construct the majority of the creations, there have been entrants from all parts of Montana as well as California, Arizona, and as far away as New York.
The fantastic and imaginative bale sculptures are displayed in fields along the “Bale Trail,” a 21 mile loop just south of U.S. Highway 87. The “Bale Trail” runs along state highways 239 and 541 with the eastern end being in Hobson, the western end at Windham, and Utica (home of the famous Oxen Yoke Inn) being the halfway point.
Download Road Map
There are two categories in the bale building competition: adult and children under the age of 13. Sculptors have come from all walks of life and have ranged in age from 3 to 83. The only BASIC rule is that each entry must be made of hay. Any person is welcome to enter the contest and there is absolutely NO entry fee. For those people interested in joining the competition, hay bales and a display location can be provided. For further contest information contact the Hobson Library and Montana Bale Trail at 406-423-5453.