Nova Scotia community rallies around farmer whose hay-bale sculpture was burned

Blake Jennings next to burnt hay sculpture Facebook/The Shoreline Journal

A beloved piece of public art on a Nova Scotia farm was burned down by vandals, much to the dismay of locals, not to mention the sculpture’s creator. Poultry farmer Blake Jennings builds the massive teddy bear sculpture out of hay bales every year on his property as part of “Blake’s Pumpkin Jungle,” his annual you-pick pumpkin patch. The bear has become a popular photo op for kids and families.

Large teddy bear sculpture made of hay bales
The bear was a favourite photo spot for residents of the area. [Credit: Rebecca Smith]

“I’ve been in business for 14 years now and I’ve never had something so terrible happen,” Jennings wrote in a Facebook post about the incident. “I apologize to all the family’s that didn’t get to take [their] picture in front of it this year.”

The bear was burned overnight, and Jennings awoke to the smell of smoke. He then received a text from a family member saying “someone burned your bear.” When he went out to go check on it, it had been reduced to ashes.

“I’ve had pumpkins stolen from my business before, but never any kind of vandalism like this,” he told the CBC.

Jennings started running his pumpkin patch when he was just nine years old, and he and his father began the tradition of building sculptures out of hay bales and corn stalks to attract customers. He used to build a giant pumpkin man, but he found that kids preferred the teddy bear, posing between its massive feet.

“Last year, I actually left it up past Christmas,” Jennings said. “I decorated him . . . with a bow and a present and everything. I kept him up because the community and families and kids just love him.”

Jennings says he’s received a lot of support from the community, as well as offers to pay for the¬†$200-worth of hay needed to rebuild.

“It certainly sucks, but at the same time it’s nice to see all the support from everybody,” Jennings said. “It really meant something to a lot of people, more than I ever really imagined.”

It is uncertain if Jennings will rebuild the bear this year, but he says it will definitely be back for next year’s pumpkin patch.

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