Let the race begin.

The Chisholm Trail Festival “Cow Chip” hunt begins Tuesday. And, yes, it’s a real cow chip — but it’s covered in a protective coating.

This year’s reward for the person or group who finds the cow chip is $500.

The event became a part of the Chisholm Trail Festival in 1999 and has proven to be so popular festival organizers bring it back each year. The event is open to anyone who has picked up a “hunting license” and has a festival button.

Hunting licenses are available at Graber’s ACE Hardware at 208 W. Broadway. The license is free, but hunters also must purchase a Chisholm Trail Festival button when obtaining a license if they don’t already have one. Licenses will be available only at the hardware store until 5 p.m. July 5.

The hunt for the cow chip begins at noon Tuesday and continues until 5 p.m. July 6. Clues will be posted at Graber’s ACE Hardware at 208 W. Broadway, the festival trailer in Athletic Park and published in the Kansan.

Because Friday is a holiday and no paper will be published that day or on Sunday, some clues only will be available online.

Festival board and event sponsors want to stress the rules must be followed so the contest is fair and fun for all involved. No property should be damaged in the quest for the cow chip. If rules are violated, it is grounds for disqualification and forfeiture of the cash prize. Also, participants must have a hunting license and festival button. A full list of the rules are printed on the “hunting licenses.”

The clues will help hunters find the cow chip with a festival button on top and win the grand prize.

This is the second year for Graber’s ACE Hardware to sponsor the event.

The hidden cow chip always is located on public property. The winning hunters then must call the phone number printed on the hunting license to report they have found the cow chip.