Scarecrows Take Over Exeter

One of the first scarecrows appearing in Exeter this fall is the Exeter’s Courthouse Gallery and Art Museum’s entry, “I Want to be a Real Boy.” Courtesy/Exeter Chamber of Commerce
One of the first scarecrows appearing in Exeter this fall is the Exeter’s Courthouse Gallery and Art Museum’s entry, “I Want to be a Real Boy.” Courtesy/Exeter Chamber of Commerce

Scarecrows will fill the neighborhoods of Exeter with the commencement of the Fourth Annual Exeter Scarecrow Contest, Thursday, October 1. The contest, running throughout the month and put on by the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, is being expanded from local chamber-member businesses and organizations, to city-residents, who will now get a chance to show off their scarecrows.

Chamber Director Sandy Blankenship says that she expects this year to more successful than the three past years that the contest has been held.

“The first we did this, we had about 25 scarecrows, then the second year we had 50, and 50 also last year,” she said. “We’re just hoping to build this up. We’re even doing a themed contest this year which is ‘Storybook Scarecrows.’”

Blankenship gave a little bit of background about how and why this Scarecrow Contest started.

“One of our citizens went to Cambria and saw their contest that they put on, and thought it would be a good idea to have a contest in Exeter,” she said. “That really helped us get started.”

It was longtime chamber supporter, Betsy Peterson, who visited Cambria and brought the idea back to Exeter. On behalf of the Garden Club of Exeter, also in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club, she will be entering into the contest for the third year in a row.

“Going to Cambria and seeing their scarecrows, I was just fascinated with what they did,” she said. “When I found out Exeter also wanted to do this, I told them about my time in Cambria.”

“We are getting more and more people every year that want to do it, and more people are starting to see what’s happening here,” she added.

At press time, there are 27 businesses with entries into the contest. There are three citizens also with entries so far.

For chamber members, Blankenship said the first-, second- and third-place finishers will be rewarded, but the top finisher will have the most prized possession at the end. Winners in this category will be announced on November 12, after displaying their scarecrows the entire month of October.

The new resident category will allow entrants to bring their scarecrows to Exeter’s Fall Festival on Saturday, October 10, where the public is invited to visit the Scarecrow Station and vote for their favorite. The winner in this category will be announced toward the end of that day. Entrants must preregister for the event.

For the chamber member’s category, “there will be custom ribbons for the second and third place, and the judges’ favorite gets a trophy they can keep, plus an ad in the chamber magazine.”

Guidelines for entering into the Exeter Scarecrow Contest include:

  • Display scarecrows from October 1-31
  • Only Exeter Chamber members are eligible for prizes
  • For those who do not have a storefront, they can partner with a member who does
  • May not be a factory made scarecrow
  • No entry will be accepted that reflects controversial, social or political situations

The chamber wants people to get creative by personalizing their scarecrow to express the originator or business/organization. They also want it to show off a product the business carries or specializes in.

For the resident category, creativity and personalizing remain important. The entry rules are similar in that entries may not be store-bought or factory-made scarecrows; and no entry that reflects controversial, social or political situations will be allowed.

Exeter’s Fall Festival starts at 7am on Saturday, October 10 with a 10K run or 2-mile walk; and the annual Exeter Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast in Exeter City Park. The annual parade starts at 10 along Pine Street. The day-long festivities include live music, arts and crafts booths, contests and food.

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