Monday, November 30, 2020

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Essex’s Scarecrow Festifall Brings Outdoor Fun Until Oct. 29


The Essex Garden Club’s 2020 entry into the Scarecrow Festifall. 

Photo courtesy of the Essex Garden Club

The Essex Garden Club’s 2020 entry into the Scarecrow Festifall. (Photo courtesy of the Essex Garden Club )

From ghastly to the more jovial, scarecrows adorning the lamp posts in Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton during this year’s Scarecrow Festifall are a welcome sign of a time-honored autumn tradition hosted by the Essex Board of Trade (EBOT) since 2009.

The event is one “that many residents and visitors look forward to each year, and possibly this year more than ever,” said Dana Barlow, EBOT co-chair for the event.

Those strolling, shopping, or eating in any of the villages can vote for their favorite one in a new way this year, by text, until Thursday, Oct. 29.

Just text the short code (ESSEX) and entry number, with no spaces, to the number provided on the label of the preferred scarecrow. There is a limit of one vote per person per day.

The first-place winner and second and third place favorites will be announced on Saturday, Oct. 31 at

Last year, the winning entry was the “Harvest Queen” from the Essex Garden Club. “Cousin It and The Thing” by William Pitt Sotheby’s came in second and “The Grim Reaper” by The Ivoryton Tavern was third.

The annual festival, which does not include the usual gathering in Main Street Park in Essex this year, was planned to adhere to state mandated safety guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barlow said that the scarecrows demonstrate “the spirit of our town and joint efforts of the community to keep a heart-felt tradition alive while carefully adhering to the protocols of the state, the town, and the” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Susan Dee of the EBOT described it as the “ultimate social distancing event” and said that they have received a positive response from the community.

“I was in town and I can tell you that everybody was taking pictures. That was so much fun to see,” she said.

Fifty-five organizations and individuals—local businesses, community groups, non-profits, and residents—participated in creating these dolls stuffed with straw.

This year, the Essex Garden Club, which always focuses on “something nature based or environmentally focused” entered a scarecrow named “Mother Earth,” according to Essex Garden Club President Pam Peters.

This scarecrow’s body consists mainly of green burlap and is adorned with pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Her golden tresses of hair are made from excelsior, a biodegradable wood fiber. She cradles a blow-up model of the earth and, in a nod to the pandemic, wears a facemask.

Sandy French and Catharine Wagner of the Club’s Horticulture Committee spent approximately six hours designing and assembling the entry.

“We’re very proud of her,” said Peters.

Peters added that the EBOT’s Scarecrow Festifall is a great opportunity for visitors and residents to explore what the villages have to offer.

“For a lot of folks, it’s a great reason to go into town to browse our shops…Anything that can help with a festive feel in town is a good thing,” said Peters.

Children are also invited to participate in a mini-scarecrow scavenger hunt that starts with visiting Olive Oyl’s Cuisine at 6 Main Street to obtain a scavenger hunt map. The map indicates which merchants are participating, by hiding a miniature scarecrow in each store and giving a stamp to those who find the scarecrow.

Upon receiving five stamps, children are asked to visit the Connecticut River Museum at 67 Main Street. At this location, they will be asked to find the sixth scarecrow, obtain their last stamp and submit it at the front desk for a treat.

Like the voting for the scarecrow displays, this children’s activity is available until Oct. 29.

Elizabeth Reinhart covers news for Chester, Deep River, and Essex for Zip06. Email Elizabeth at

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