It looks like the loads of scarecrows that are all over Patrick County must have scared off the fall festivals as well as the birds.
But no, it was the pandemic that did that – simply leaving the scarecrows an opportunity to shine.
It’s the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce’s Inaugural Scarecrow Contest, going on throughout October.
Around 70 scarecrows already are registered in the contest. Votes for the best are being taken throughout the month. Various prizes will be given not only to the scarecrows (or the people who built them) but also to people who visit the most scarecrows.
“It’s something that, as the Chamber, I wanted to do for a few years,” Chamber Executive Director Rebecca Adcock said, “but we’ve always been so busy in the fall, we thought this year would be a good time to do it.”
Usually, fall is hopping in Patrick County in terms of events, she said, starting with the Agricultural Fair in September. Then “October is jam-packed” with the Apple Dumpling Festival, Woolwine Volunteer Fire Department Octoberfest, the historical reenactment in Ararat, various elementary school fall festivals and, on Halloween, Spooktacular on Main Street.
All of that has been canceled because of the pandemic. People can participate in a scarecrow contest, on the other hand, without being in crowds.
“We thought it would be a fun activity just to help decorate the county for the fall as well as to cheer some people up as they drive through and be a tourist attraction,” she said.
David Rakes of the West Piedmont Planning District is working on a map showing where they all are, for people to see them, she said.
Entries are all over Stuart, including by several business along Main Street, several on Woodland Drive, Patrick Spring and the Fairy Stone State Park area – “and we would love to see more around Meadows of Dan.”
They are personalized, too, representing the interests or occupations of their creators, such as a dentist, a doctor and, to represent fire department members, a Dalmatian dog. The robotics team put up one with a 3-D printed head.
Meanwhile, Master Gardeners planted flower beds on Main Street, where their scarecrow appears to be continuing their work.
“It makes me happy driving around” seeing them, Adcock said, and glad that “it brings some smiles to other people.”
To cast a vote, visit www.patrickchamber.com.
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.
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