The inaugural Scarecrow Festival held in Rutland five years ago barely drew 50 people to the Centennial Park fairgrounds.
But when this year’s event takes place on Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. at Lions Park, a crowd of more than 3,500 people are anticipated to take part in this free family event.
The brainchild of the Uptown Rutland Business Association in its attempt to develop a family-oriented annual event, the Scarecrow Festival has gained a solid foundation.
While the primary attraction of the scarecrow building contest remains, other activities have been brought on board, from live entertainment to other children’s activities, information and food vendors and a pumpkin growing contest.
“As a signature event for our organization, we’re very proud of the festival,” said Deborah Guthrie, executive director of URBA.
“And I am very proud of URBA and the board of directors for supporting this event. It has been amazing for us to see how quickly it has grown.”
And that growth has come despite the scheduling conflict of taking place the same day as the popular Run For Cure fundraiser for breast cancer.
“We’ve had that conflict since three years ago when we decided to go with the first weekend of October as a permanent time for the festival,” acknowledged Guthrie.
“It does present some challenges in terms of getting volunteers because that’s always the hard part, getting enough people to help out, with local charity events.
“But the (Run For The Cure) is in the morning and we take place in the afternoon so there is an opportunity for families to take part in both.”
The focal point of the Scarecrow Festival again this year will be the scarecrow building contest.
Guthrie says it will be capped at 160 entrants, after having 132 individuals and/or families sign up last year. You can still register online at www.kelownascarecrowfestival.com.
Scarecrow builders are given the tools and supplies to create their own scarecrow, and can bring other decorative features from home if they so choose.
“The only rule we have is that everything has to be hand-made. No manufactured faces or costumes. One person asked if they could use a techno face created off their iPad, and I didn’t even know what that was,” Guthrie laughed.
A new feature to the contest this year, Guthrie added, was a suggestion brought up by the contest judges last year.
“We have had plaques created by Peregrine Precisionworks for the winners in each of the categories, and we also had medals done up by Creative Trophy for the runnerups,” she said.
“The judges felt we should have prizes of some kind to hand out, so we’ve done that this year and both the plaques and metals look very impressive.”
As well, the kids will have the sand pit to play in, various inflatable giant toys, a Lego craft tent and a number of old-fashioned games to try out such as marbles, jacks and pick-up sticks.
Lions Park is located on Gray Road in Rutland, behind the Plaza 33 shopping centre.
For more information about the festival, go online to www.kelownascarecrowfestival.com.