Farmer Olympics games open at Hancock Village

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Photo Gallery | 2016 Farmer Olympics at Hancock Shaker Village

PITTSFIELD — Halfway through the Hay Bale Stack event, Hannah Guarino and Kailey Uresk finally figured out how best to pile the 11 bundles of field grass into the bed of a Ford Ranger pick-up truck.

At first, the 15-year-old best friends weren't employing teamwork.

"When I saw [Kailey] already on the back of the truck, I realized it would go quicker if I tossed them to her," said Guarino of Great Barrington, who was teamed with Ursek of Long Island.

The young ladies finished with a solid time of 50 seconds, according event monitor, Deb Phillips.

Phillips is an adult volunteer with Greenagers, the nonprofit teenage work program staging its third "Farmer Olympics: Go Pig or Go Home," at Hancock Shaker Village.

The living museum and the South Berkshire-based Greenagers collaborating for the first time on the youth group's fundraiser, which debuted three years ago in Great Barrington. After taking a break in 2015, the agricultural competition resumed on Saturday to promote and raise money for Greenagers programs.

"It's about environmental stewardship and farming; it's hands on, it's educational," said David Sheehan, president of Greenagers board of directors.

Primarily Individual or teams of youths paid a registration fee to vie for Olympic-style gold, silver and bronze medals in farm chores turned sporting events such as rolling round 500 pound bales of hay, tossing cucumbers and corn, milking a goat and two-person timber crosscutting challenge.

The 35 cucumbers used for sporting purposes came from Sheehan's garden.

"Afterwards, they will probably go to feed the pigs here at the village they will not go to waste," he said.

Early on during the three-hours of competition, it was apparent those who strategized the best would likely come out on top.

Chris Wiltshire and Ted Okun showed the hay bale roll was harder than it looked.

"You needed [the bale] to go straight or it would go left or right," Wiltshire said.

Alex Borca-Tasciuc used his track and field experience in the Grain Bag Toss, grabbing the 40-pound sack and spinning twice before sling it through the air and landing 18 feet, 9 inches away.

"I adapted the discus form," said the 15-year-old from Troy, N.Y.

"He had the foot work down," noted Ben Webster, the Greenagers volunteer keeping score at the event.

Greenagers hires out youth 13 years of age and older, trained by the nonprofit in the skill of maintaining open and recreational spaces, sustainable organic farming and environmental leadership.

In exchange for Hancock Shaker Village hosting the Farmer Olympics on the grounds of it iconic Round Stone Barn, an eight-member Greenagers work crew recently spent seven days providing free labor to the museum.

"We did brush work and put wood shingles on a shed and repaired a stone wall," said Greenagers Executive Director Will Conklin.

Aside from registration fees, the Farmer Olympics held a Cow Crap Raffle to boost its coffers. While a Hancock Shaker Village bovine grazed for a few hours, up to 100 chances were sold, one for each square marked out in a pen near the Round Stone Barn.

The well-fed cow determined the raffle winner by dropping a cow chip on the first square after being herded into the enclosure.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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