UPDATE: DEADLINE EXTENDED TO OCT. 31, 2015 – entries must be postmarked by this date.

Virginia is for Horse Lovers! So where better than to own a horse farm – especially one you can own for a 1,000 word essay and an entry fee of $200? The 35-acre Rock Spring Farm will become the property of an essayist who can convince a panel of judges – educators and horse enthusiasts – he or she loves horses and wants to live in rural Essex County. The Rock Spring Farm Essay Contest  deadline has been extended to Oct. 31, 2015; check the Facebook page for the new received date and announcement date. cottage2-large

To enter the essay contest, participants must write an essay of no more than 1,000 words describing their desire to live in a rural area and own a horse farm. The entry fee is $200. The owners, who for health reasons are retiring and downsizing, hope to receive at least 5,000 entries. Proceeds from the essay contest will pay off the existing mortgage, purchase a retirement property for the couple, and establish college funds for their grandchildren. If the contest does not receive 5,000 entries, the owners may elect to accept fewer, or they will return participants’ entry fees. A trustee is handling the finances.

front-pasture-belle-largeThe 35-acre farm has more than two miles of trails designed for carriage driving, horseback riding, and hiking. In addition to the main house (built in 1996), the farm consists of an income-producing, two-bedroom cottage (built in 2007), a late 1800s cook house, a five-stall horse barn, a carriage barn, a woodworking shop (built 2012) with central heating and air, a shed, a run-in, and an equipment barn. The farm has about 10 acres of mature hardwood trees, excellent soil, and water to three of the four pastures.

The owners of Rock Spring Farm will read each of the essays and select 25 finalists. A panel of educators and horse enthusiasts will select the winner. The Rock Spring Farm Essay Contest is modeled after the essay contest Bil and Susie Mosca held in 1993 to find a new owner for Maine’s Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant and the essay contest Janice Sage, the 1993 essay winner, is sponsoring currently.

For more information about the Rock Spring Farm Essay Contest go to www.rockspringfarm.org or https://www.facebook.com/virginiahorsefarm

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is this essay contest for real?

Yes. This essay contest is for real. The owners are retiring and downsizing because of health reasons. Since they are creative, “out-of-the-box” sort of people, they decided to sponsor an essay contest instead of using the more traditional method of contracting with a real estate firm.

  1. Is it legal?

Essay contests are legal because they require skill – not luck or chance as with raffles and lotteries, and they are not pyramid schemes. The entry fee of $200 is stated clearly.

  1. How did the owners decide to sponsor an essay contest?

More than 20 years ago one of owners heard news coverage about the essay contest Bill and Susie Mosca were holding to find a new owner for their beloved Center Lovell Inn in Maine. She loved the idea! Recently, she learned through the media that Janice Sage, the winner of that 1993 contest, is retiring and “selling” the Inn again via an essay contest. The second winner will be announced May 21. She and her husband discussed the idea and decided to sponsor a similar contest.

  1. Why didn’t they list their property with a real estate agent?

Simply put, they want to fulfill someone’s dream. They love their farm and want to pass it along to someone who has a passion for country living and a passion for horses as much as they do. This contest will enable someone, who otherwise might not be able to afford to do so, to own an incredible piece of property.

  1. How do I know this isn’t a scam?

The owners are aware that people often receive offers for deals that seem too good to be true; many times those deals are too good to be true. As with the Maine essay contests, the Rock Spring Farm Essay Contest is not a scam. The owners discussed the contest with state and local government officials, and the contest rules includes the tax map location of the property, which can be verified by the Essex County, Virginia, Commissioner of Revenue. 

  1. How is this contest different from the ones in Maine?

The biggest difference is this contest is for a horse farm, not a bed-and-breakfast. Therefore, the participants will not need those entrepreneurial skills. Instead, they will need to love horses and possess the knowledge of how to care for horses and the land. They will need to love country living since this will be their new home. They also will need to know how to manage the cottage as rental property, if they decide to lease it.

Other differences: The entry fee for the 1993 contest was $100 and the Moscas limited their contest to 5,000 entries. Ms. Sage raised the entry fee to $125, set a goal of 7,500 entries, and decided not to limit the number of entries. Both contests set a word limit to 200. We raised our entry fee to $200, set a goal of 5,000 entries, and increased the word count to no more than 1,000. As did Ms. Sage, we decided not to limit the number of entries. (FYI—This document is about 1,000 words.)

  1. What happens if they don’t reach their goal?

Contest Rule 8 states “…. All entry fees shall be returned, if at least 5,000 entries are not received; however, the sponsors reserve the right to accept less than 5,000 entries.” (Bold, italicized type added here for emphasis.)

  1. Why can’t people put their names on the essays?

All the entries will be mailed to a trustee who will deposit the checks and code the essays. The owners will not know the identities of the essayists. Many people have said on the essay contest’s Facebook page they plan to enter; the owners want to be fair to everyone and remain impartial. They will judge the contest on the merits of the essays and the passion and enthusiasm the writing conveys. They ask that essayists not include specific identifying information, to write in general terms, and use pseudonyms, if necessary.

  1. How do we know the will remain impartial?

They will not select the winner; a panel of judges will select the winner. The owners will read each of the essays and select 25 finalists. Once they agree upon the 25, they will give the essays to the panel of judges to select the winning essay. Mr. and Mrs. Mosca recently published a book, Passing along a Dream: The Story Behind the Center Lovell Inn Essay Contest, about their experience with the 1993 contest. The owners enjoyed the Mosca’s story about how difficult it was for the two of them to agree on the 25 essays they both liked. The owners of Rock Spring Farm expect not to find that an easy task either!

  1. How much are the annual property taxes?

The annual real estate taxes are approximately $3,800.

  1. Is the property eligible for land use?

Yes.

  1. Is there a current tenant? What are the lease terms?

Yes, a tenant lives in the cottage. Out of respect for the tenant’s privacy, the rental agreement details will remain private. The owners will disclose the details to the winner of the essay contest.

  1. Are there any easements on the property?

Yes. There is a cemetery easement.

  1. What will the legal sale amount be for purposes of transfer?

The tax value of the land and improvements is approximately $600,000. If they had listed the property with a real estate firm, they would have asked for more than the tax value.

  1. How much will the real estate transfer taxes and fees cost?

The owners suggest you consult with a knowledgeable real estate attorney.

  1. Where can I see pictures of the property? 

rockspringfarm.org

https://www.facebook.com/virginiahorsefarm

  1. How do I enter the contest?

Download the entry form and contest rules from http://on.fb.me/1NftOjX or click the “sign up” button.