It’s official, Scarecrow festivals are catching on. In villages all over the land from Kettlewell to Wetwang, they are turning up outside houses and churches and pubs, and showing off the creativity of the folk of the UK. You usually pay for a little map so you can follow the trail, and the proceeds go to local community causes or charities
I was unable to find out exactly what the origins of the scarecrow trails are, but scarecrows themselves have been around for centuries in one form or another. The fake folk are created on the premise that birds are scared of people and will therefore not scoff your crops if they think the scarecrow is a real person watching out for them. This weekend I was visiting a good friend in the very picturesque North Yorkshire village of Hutton Rudby, and took part in their scarecrow trail around the village, which was very good fun indeed.
Yorkshire’s next top model scarecrow
The weather was absolutely glorious – we do seem to be having a bone fide Indian summer – and the scarecrows were as imaginative and entertaining as any I’ve seen. We picked up our map from outside the little village church, next to the box of help yourself windfall apples, and off we went armed with our pencils and rather too many clothes for the sunshiny day.
Some of the scarecrows were awfully smart. The shepherd with his sheep had a very fetching hacking jacket on which we thought someone may have tried to purloin for themselves until we noticed it was stapled to the tree.
The Old Soak from the Bay Horse
The ‘Old Soak’ who was quaffing ale outside the Bay Horse was scarily real. His chest was made of a beer barrel and he was wearing the landlord’s old funeral suit and a pair of sinister looking spectacles. The other pub – the King’s Head – had a witch carrying some handcuffs sitting outside as if waiting for opening time. Was this a comment on the clientele we wondered?
The perfect couple
One of my favourite creations were an old couple sitting outside the church hall who were very realistic, right down to the knitting and the wrinkly Nora Batty stockings on the lady. They were holdinga sign advertising the actual real Wednesday Social Club day centre. Home cooked lunch. Tea/coffee and biscuits. A warm welcome and a friendly atmosphere – all for just £4.50. Why not try us? Transport provided.I was tempted I can tell you.
There was a bench of Brownies and a rambler. A rather deflated looking Darth Vader and a perky looking Mr Gru from Despicable me. He had a small minion in an ornamental shrub next to him. There were a couple of princesses a country side tart lady and Tilly the Trapeze artist provided some variation as an aerial scarecrow.
Crow scaring for Dummies!
Scaring Crows for Dummies was a rather intellectual ensemble which had obviously taken an awful lot of work and we had a lovely time wandering about the streets and estates in the warm Autumn sunshine deciding on our top three to vote for. Probably the most famous scarecrow of all is Worzel Gummidge. The children’s book character was very big in the 80’s. He was created by author Barbara EuphanTodd and brought to life on the small screen by John Pertwee on TV. He would turn from inanimate field accessory to a real life personality and have weekly implausible adventures. He would sometimes even change his head depending on what mood he was in. If only I could do the same, I remember thinking. Pertwee’s portrayal of the eccentric Worzel was very entertaining and a nice contrast to his other famous role as Dr Who.
Worzel Gummidge – his happy head
We even saw some scarecrow trails last week on our mad 5 ferries cycling challenge trip, right up in the highlands of bonny Scotland. The straw men are taking over, but in the nicest possible manner.
The Scottish contingent
This time of year, when harvests are being brought in from the fields scarecrow trails are in abundance. See if you can find one near you, it’s a lot of fun and you may meet a few interesting characters along the way..