I never realized how pretty – or how ugly – a scarecrow could be.
St. Marys’ wildly fun Build-a-Scarecrow event, a part of the city’s annual October “Hay Days” celebration, was my family’s first scarecrow-building experience. For a $20 fee, you get a “scarecrow kit” that covers all the bases: a sack for the face, a wooden frame to hold the body, and tables full of old clothes to choose from. Boxes of knee-high stockings are on hand to make arms with.
The project begins on the lawn of Orange Hall off Osborne Street at a craft table loaded with paints, glue, and decorations like fake flowers and feathers. Some kids painted simple smiley faces on their scarecrow heads. Some painstakingly designed hairdos made of yarn and stapled hats to the scarecrows’ heads. My family decided to make an orange head with black features so it would look like a jack o’ lantern.
Of course, what you envision, and what really happens when you unleash a 3-year-old with a paintbrush soaked in black paint are two different things. Our scarecrow ended up looking like his eye exploded all over his face… but, uh, I guess that’s not such a bad thing on Halloween.
The next step was to stuff the body. This is where my 3-year-old really started to have fun. He was up to his elbows in a pile of hay in no time. I think he threw a lot more hay at me, the baby and my husband than he actually stuffed in our scarecrow, but it was all good fun either way.
I thought we were doing pretty well until the next stage, when we were supposed to assemble the body and attach it to the frame. This is where we novices began to stand out from the old pros who have been building scarecrows at this St. Marys event for years.
We tried to stuff the jeans and T-shirt we selected with care, but our scarecrow ended up looking like a lumpy, obese bandit. Somehow he had one gigantic arm, and one shriveled-looking little arm. Then we stood him up, and he dropped his drawers. My husband and I finally stopped and just watched for a while, picking up some tricks from the more experienced folks while my son had a ball throwing himself around in a haystack with a bunch of the other kids.
Some twine and a staple gun worked wonders for our scarecrow. By the time we were ready to leave, I was pretty proud of him – until we walked down Osborne Street, which was lined with scarecrow masterpieces. There was one scarecrow that looked exactly like Dorothy from Wizard of Oz. There were fully-dressed military scarecrows. There was a traffic cop scarecrow posed with an orange flag and cones. There was even a scarecrow couple in a bed outside Spencer House Bed and Breakfast.
What I learned from attending the event is this:
- Reserve your scarecrow ahead of time: it will save you a little on the price, and it will ensure they don’t run out before you get there.
- If you want to use a particular theme, plan ahead and bring the clothes and accessories you want to use.
- Don’t sweat it – if you decide to take your scarecrow home, like we did, he’ll look much more impressive when he’s not competing with Dorothy and the traffic cop.