You can be sure scarecrows show up each fall downtown

Published 10:46 am Friday, September 1, 2023

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Every season has its symbols, and with autumn we tend to think of falling leaves, Halloween and harvest, pumpkin picking, bobbing for apples, and of course, scarecrows.
It’s a treat as every fall, scarecrows show up downtown Elizabethton…and they’re never scary! Main Street Elizabethton sponsors the contest and is encouraging businesses to get creative and in the fall spirit with a scarecrow decorating contest. The scarecrows, which have already started appearing, will be on display through October. The event promises a season of creativity, community spirit and friendly competition among the businesses, and you, the public gets to choose the winner.
It’s a treat to visit downtown and see the scarecrows that are fixed outside businesses as part of the annual Main Street contest.
And, judging by the few scarecrows we have already seen, there was no straw in the brains of some of these creators.
And, this brings us to the question as to why scarecrows are associated with autumn because that’s when they usually show up.
It’s not surprising to know that, like farming, scarecrows have been around for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians built wooden structures covered in netting to protect their wheat fields from flocks of quail.
As you can guess from its English name, the scarecrow’s primary function is to scare away crows and other pests and keep them from picking at growing crops. But it has also managed to assimilate into the folk culture of countries across the world, sometimes in surprising ways.
Of course in popular Western culture, one of the most recognizable scarecrows is the affable character from L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. Again, this scarecrow is anything but scary. Some sources say he represents American farmers in the early 1900s, who were thought of as stupid but were actually very adept problem solvers. Others say that he, the Lion and the Tin Man symbolize the mind-body-spirit trifecta. Whatever the case may be, I’m willing to bet that that genial fellow could count on one straw hand the number of crows he managed to frighten in a lifetime.
While the traditional humanoid scarecrow is still clearly celebrated as a symbol of agriculture and depicted in various ways in pop culture, it is rarely used anymore to perform its original function.
Today, scarecrows are mostly used for decoration. Occasionally, they can be seen in cornfields or pumpkin patches, but they are usually decorative pieces for lawns and porches and are made of straw.
The scarecrows downtown are a growing fall tradition, and we’re happy to see the businesses participate with their own unique characters fashioned of straw to depict some familiar character or a depiction of their business.
The scarecrow contest is just one of many activities downtown this fall, of which the highlight will be the Covered Bridge Festival, which will be later this month – Sept. 23 and 24 – and will feature music, vendors, arts and crafts, kids activities, fireworks and more.
Plan to be a part of the fall festivities downtown. It takes people like you to make these events successful.

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