It seems like there is a trend starting with business owners, especially if that business includes a house. We’re not talking about starting a B&B; we’re talking about writing contests! We’ve written before about the Center Lovell Inn in Maine, the hotel that has exchanged ownership twice now via essay contest, but this is the first we’ve heard of a dairy farm doing the same thing!
The farmhouse, complete with adorable “guard dog.” / Via Goat Dairy Essay
The Humble Heart Goat Dairy & Creamery is being offered up as a prize in yet another essay contest. The current owners are moving to Costa Rica and would rather leave the farm in the hands of someone who will care about it. The farm, located in Northern Alabama, has a trip of 55 goats, 20 acres of land, and a friendly dog. Most importantly, though, is the fact that it’s a fully matured business. The owners are offering the contest winner a month of training before they take over the farm as well as $20,000 in start-up money.
But how is this possible?
“Hey kid, are you trippin?” / Via Goat Dairy Essay
For many, the hole puncturing their imagination balloon comes in the form of the entrance fee. As with The Center Lovell Inn, applicants to the contest are asked to send in money with their essay in the form of an entrance fee. In the case of Humble Heart, they are asking for $150. Some feel that this is extremely steep for a 200-word essay contest.
In the case of most literary journals, the entrance fee is small and is justified by the time it takes an editor to read your submission. Writing contests with higher submission fees will often times offer a copy of the “winner’s issue” as a consolation prize to those who submitted.
But is 150 bucks worth it for 200 words?
Can the cat be part of the prize too?! / Via Goat Dairy Essay
For many, the answer is yes.
For $150 dollars, one is given the chance to start a new life. The winner gets to proudly take over a successful business. They get a house, land, money, training, a dog, a trip of goats (maybe a cat); they get the warm embrace of a new community. But there will be a lot of people that don’t win and for their minimal efforts, the risk is huge.
As with every large contest like this, the question of intent comes in to play. The owners of Humble Heart aren’t really giving away their farm. If the contest receives fewer than 2,500 submissions, then they will call it a draw and refund everyone their money. But if they receive the correct amount of minimum submissions, the contest will generate $375,000. And if only $20,000 of this pool is given to the winner, then the current owners will be moving to Costa Rica farm-less, but with a decent pile of cash.
Via Goat Dairy Essay
In contests like this, the entry fee functions as payment to the owners for the property that they’re giving up. But to some, this is not as magnanimous as it seems. They’re getting paid for their property, they’re just asking 2,500 people to pay them for it. For the winner, it’s an amazing victory. They will become the new owners of Humble Heart for $150 and 200 words. But others may see it as crowd sourcing some else’s dream. This might seem like a harsh distillation of the contest’s outcomes, and it’s not up to us to decide how to sell a farm. Or even a hotel for that matter.
As writer’s, we write. And sometimes we’re rewarded for our words. This may come in the form of publication, a high grade from a professor, a kiss on the cheek… But for some, writing can earn them a whole new life.