Nelson County joins rock-hiding craze

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Year-round activity attracting hundreds

By Kacie Goode

While the time for hiding Easter eggs has come and gone for this year, Nelson Countians have joined up for another craze — rocks.


Nelson County Rocks is a public Facebook group, which formed this spring after taking inspiration from similar groups in surrounding areas.

The group has a simple mission — paint rocks with positive or funny messages and designs, and hide them for others to find. It’s a trend that has quickly taken off, with local membership growing from 800 to 3,500 in just a matter of weeks. It’s an activity suitable for everyone from toddlers to the elderly and in between.

“It’s to put a smile on somebody’s face for the day, and pass it on,” said Mary Shelby, who teamed up with Troy Nalley to promote the group. “The kids are loving it.”

Shelby, Nalley and their families and friends have been key players in getting the craze started. By early this month, Shelby had already helped hide hundreds of rocks. On Saturday, two public rock-painting parties meant dozens more for community members to find.

In Bloomfield, several kids turned out for a party at the Farmer’s Market, and requests came in for more to be hidden around the Bloomfield, Chaplin and Fairfield areas as interest has increased.

Downtown, Natalie Stone with Suga Babies also hosted a rock-painting party, which attracted kids throughout the afternoon.

“It’s free, it’s fun,” Stone said, adding that she usually finds several in front of her store each morning.

Stone said the activity gets parents and kids outside, exploring their community and their creativity.

Designs for the rocks have included simple colors and patterns, as well as elaborate drawings or playing off the shape to create characters, animals and objects. Rocks promoting law enforcement recognition, Prayers for Crystal and Justice for Rasheed have also been found.

Not only is finding the rocks a fun activity, participants are encouraged to post their finds to Facebook and see where the rocks travel.

Posts on the local group have reported tourists finding rocks and taking them back to other states to share the idea. Others have posted about feeling inspired in their find that day, whether it’s a rock that reminds them of a childhood experience, or an encouraging note. The rocks may be kept or re-hid them for someone else to find.

As community involvement increases, there are thousands of rocks to find across Nelson County. Other surrounding counties also have rock groups, such as LaRue County with 4,400 members, and other parts of the state and country.

The rocks are not limited to hiding places one might expect, such as parks. One might find a rock outside — or in some cases inside — a downtown store or in the heart of New Haven. And the activity is also not limited to springtime.

Applying a sealer to the rocks, Shelby said, will preserve the artwork to continue in the winter as well. Painters can even be creative, adding a glow-in-the-dark spray to the rocks.

In addition to hosting a way for rock hunters to post their finds, the Nelson County Rocks group has also started giving away prizes to those who share the Facebook page. A rock-painting contest is open until Saturday. To enter, participants can post a photo of the rock they have painted in ">the contest post from April 26. Winner will receive a bucket of rocks and paint.

Shelby said the group is also working to connect with area churches to add Bible verses and other messages to rocks, which could be a fun activity for youth groups and Sunday schools.

Those wishing to paint and hide rocks should keep their messages and designs positive and family-friendly. Rocks should not be hidden inside buildings or on private property without permission. This includes storefronts and flowerboxes. Those hiding should also be careful not to hide rocks in hazardous locations, such as in the way of a lawn mower, close to roadways, or on vehicles. For more information, visit the Nelson County Rocks Facebook page.