The Missouri Department of Agriculture is looking for a record number of hay bales to mark the 17th annual Missouri State Fair Hay Contest, hosted during the Centennial Missouri State Fair.

The contest features 10 competitive hay classes, which are judged on color, condition, aroma and purity. The contest also provides a laboratory analysis and feed value for each hay entry. The hay entries will be judged on the opening day of the fair and displayed through the end of the fair.

"This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Missouri State Fair, so we hope to set a record with more than 85 entries," said Mark Murphy, hay marketing specialist with the Missouri Department of Agriculture and superintendent of the Missouri State Fair Hay Contest. "This annual contest provides producers with the opportunity to showcase some of the state's high quality forages, while receiving laboratory testing, at a reduced cost. This is another service the department's Market Development Division provides to assist producers in marketing their products."

The Missouri Department of Agriculture, along with 20 agribusinesses, sponsors the annual event, which offers contestants more than $5,000 in premiums and products.

The deadline for entering this year's contest is Aug. 1. For more information or an entry form, write to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Market Development Division, Hay Contest, PO Box 630, Jefferson City, MO 65102; telephone 573-751-7213. Information and entry forms are also available at the county Extension office.

The Missouri State Fair is Aug. 8 to 18, in Sedalia.

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