When the town of Fremont, Mich., comes together in late September celebrating harvest with a parade and public sculptures created from hay bales, First Christian Reformed Church is part of the action.
For at least four years, a team of hay artists has put together a display in the church yard, picking up on a biblical or church history theme and adding some creative flourishes to the raw agricultural materials.
One of the creators, Deb Wolfsen, said the church’s involvement is a way to connect with their neighbors and get in on the fun. “It’s really a big deal,” Wolfsen said. “The hay art is throughout the whole town . . . so we do the hay art and we have a float just to get our name out there and to show we do fun things.”
This year eight volunteers worked on a hay bale replica of the facade of the church’s original 1882 building. The team chose to look to their past since the 2018 fall harvest festival theme was “back to the future.” Earlier hay sculptures by First CRC have depicted sheep, a cross, and the lion and lamb from Revelation 5.
A farmer who is a member of First CRC supplies the bales and delivers them to the church parking lot for sculpting. This year’s supply included three large square bales (33 by 33 inches by 72 inches long; or just under 1 meter square by 2 meters long) and 15 regular square bales.
The volunteers don’t know how many people take in their display each year, but the church is included in the map of hay art displays published by the Chamber of Commerce. Viewers vote for their favorite displays with canned food donations at the chamber. Proceeds go to a local food pantry and bragging rights to the winning display. Wolfsen admits First CRC has never placed high, but she said they do it for the fun of it.