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Community hay bale contest continues during pandemic

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RONAN — In an effort to keep morale up when most events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ronan Chamber of Commerce is still holding onto a bit of fun with the annual “Trail of Bales” hay bale decorating contest.  

“Can’t wait to get to see what is in store this year,” one resident said. “Thanks in advance for all those who work to make a fun road trip.” 

Heroes, pretend or real, was the selected theme of this year’s event, according to the chamber. Many of the bales are decorated to honor emergency responders, military personnel and teachers. Others are pandemic related - with many including a protective face mask. Face masks have a become common sight after the Centers for Disease Control called on the American public to wear them to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

A few hay bale contestants shared the message that everyone is a hero. One bale is the anchor for a mirror so people can see themselves as heroes, and another is a giant bee with the slogan “bee your own hero.” Some took a more humorous approach - decorating a bale to look like a giant roll of toilet paper and another a giant can of Lysol.

The Trail of Bales tour stretches from the Ninepipes Lodge on U.S. Highway 93 near the Ninepipe Wildlife Refuge to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Department of Human Resources Development office in Pablo. For the most part, the bales are set up near the business or organization that decorated them.

Heading north from Ninepipe, the Trail of Bales travels along U.S. Highway 93, turns left up Main Street in Ronan and continues west down Round Butte Road. More bales can be found on Third Avenue near the Ronan High School. 

Community members are invited to vote for their favorite bale. Voting began Sept. 7 and closes on Sept. 25. To cast a vote, visit and click the box for your favorite bale. There are 45 entries this year.

Ronan’s Trail of Bales usually coincides with the annual Harvest Fest which includes games, food and socializing at the city park, but the event was canceled this year to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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