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Scarecrows with message take over Bernardston park

  • "Elizabeth Bennet Darcy," a scarecrow by Karen Stinchfield, seen at Scarecrow in the Park Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 in Bernardston. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • 4 year-old Jake Stone races in a potato sack at Scarecrow in the Park Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • 4 year-olds Jacob Renaud of Bernardston, left, and Conor O'Connell of Greenfield, right, look at a SpongeBob SquarePants scarecrow at Scarecrow in the Park Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Alyssa Remillard, 4, builds a scarecrow at Bernardston's Scarecrow in the Park Saturday as parents Hillary and Eric Remilard look on, Oct. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Scarecrows on display at Scarecrow in the Park Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Scarecrows on display at Scarecrow in the Park Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Scarecrows on display at Scarecrow in the Park Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Scarecrows on display at Scarecrow in the Park Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Melha Shrine Clowns at Scarecrow in the Park in Bernardston Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—



Recorder Staff
Saturday, October 21, 2017

BERNARDSTON — It took Scarecrow in the Park organizer Karen Stinchfield a day and a half to meticulously glue together her scarecrow’s corn kernel face.

“Last year, I got popcorn thinking I would send it to my niece and her kids, but then I didn’t,” Stinchfield said Saturday, as the 13th annual Scarecrow in the Park hit full swing at Cushman Park. Instead, the kernels became “Elizabeth Bennet Darcy,” protagonist of Jane Austin’s acclaimed 1800s novel “Pride and Prejudice.” Stinchfield’s scarecrow, wearing a dress she wore during 6th grade to her sister’s wedding, was judged best in the festival’s “history” category.

In other categories, Cody and Kayla Fish’s scarecrow “The Seekle Bird” won for “most interesting use of materials”; “scariest” scarecrow went to “Skaren,” a large black spider by the Laprade family; the “funniest” scarecrow was “Revenge Thanksgiving” by Julia Dickinson (two turkeys preparing a human scarecrow); and Heather Scoble Dion’s “Crowell” won the “prettiest” category.

Around 11:30 a.m., hundreds of people enjoying unusually warm weather browsed vendor tents featuring handmade products, painted pumpkins and surveyed dozens of scarecrows, finding their favorites.

“Trump,” said Shirley Tuttle of Bernardston, quickly adding, “I don’t really like him.”

Tuttle referenced two scarecrow replicas of President Donald Trump, one stuck in a hay bale by disgruntled farmers, another beside a bird-filled tree and a sign announcing “tweet, tweet, tweet.”

“I’ve never seen so many political scarecrows,” said Crystal Brunton, who traveled from Gilford, N.H. to view the scarecrows. “How can they not be in times like these?”

But they weren’t all political. Seven-year-old Esmé Moran best liked a SpongeBob SquarePants scarecrow, complete with replica jellyfish hanging from strings blowing in the breeze.

Others on display Saturday included the Statue of Liberty, and a scene depicting the Boston Tea Party.

“This is my first time, and I’m very impressed,” said Turners Falls resident Jo Jo Waryasz, there with Barbara Sevene of Bernardston looking at a scarecrow made from a Christmas wreath.

At noon, the festival’s annual parade, featuring more than 50 historic and modern tractors, stepped off down Church Street with local school bands in the lead. The road was lined with parents and children catching candy tossed from trailers. A few Melha Shrine Clowns caught pieces for children too young to catch them themselves.

“Waldo,” as portrayed by Erving resident Tom Hartnett in a red and white striped shirt, wandered through the park snapping photos with anyone who found him.

“I’ve been (Waldo) for two years, look just like him,” Hartnett said.

Hartnett noted many youth activities including potato sack races, pumpkin painting, scarecrow building and tic tack toe with mini pumpkins. For parents, Scarecrow in the Park is a chance “to see local vendors, buy, try different things. It’s a very good time,” he said.

Children’s events are funded each year by a state Department of Early Childhood Education grant, said organizer Deb Wood, family and community engagement coordinator for the Pioneer School District. Wood volunteered to apply for the grant and host youth activities through the weekend.

“There’s a lot of social and emotional play between children,” she said. “This is an outreach to families.”

The event, organized by the Kiwanis Club of Bernardston, is made possible through donations and volunteers like Wood, Stinchfield said. For example, the tent is set up for free each year by Redeker Tents and Rentals, with portable bathrooms donated by A1-Enterprises. Overnight, Boy Scouts provide security.

While admission to the event and most activities are free, any money raised by the Kiwanis Club’s food booth and scarecrow entry fees go toward scholarships. And on Friday, Silverthorne Theater Company put on “Greater Tuna” under the festival’s music tent to raise money for the Florida Keys Kiwanis Club, which is helping with recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma.

Throughout Saturday, there were hay rides, Halloween dance parties, a police K-9 demonstration, and live performances by Kurt Damkoehler, Celtic Heels, Corki and Ken, and the Bork-Tinen-Kahn Trio. Scarecrow in the Park ran through Sunday.