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Imagination required for this Scarecrow Contest

  • "Just Walkin' the Dogs" by Margot and Jacob VanNatta won the award for funniest scarecrow at "Scarecrow in the Park" 2019. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • "Charlotte's Web" by LaPrade Maya Elise Lily won the award for best use of materials at "Scarecrow in the Park" 2019. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • "Reading with Dr. Seuss and the Grinch" by Debora and Heather Scoble won the award for best reading-themed scarecrow at "Scarecrow in the Park" 2019. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • “Katy's Kill and Curl” by Katy Deane won the award for scariest scarecrow. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • “A Fish On” by the Puchalski family won the award for prettiest scarecrow at “Scarecrow in the Park” 2019. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/21/2019 2:00:11 AM

BERNARDSTON — Scarecrows didn’t appear in Cushman Park until two days before Bernardston’s annual fall festival, “Scarecrow in the Park,” which was open Saturday and Sunday.

The festival’s unique draw, compared to other fall festivals in the area, is its scarecrow contest. Entries are designed to compete in one of five categories, which this year were prettiest, funniest, scariest, best use of materials and reading-themed. Contestants are encouraged to be creative, but there are a handful of requirements to ensure that the entries are essentially scarecrow-like.

“We don’t want a park full of classic scarecrows. We want interesting things,” said Karen Stinchfield, who is on the festival’s organizing committee.

The scarecrows stay up through the weekend-long festival, as a unique attraction alongside the arts and crafts vendors, musicians and food.

Scarecrows usually take shape in Cushman Park over the course of the week leading up to the festival. The cutoff for working on a scarecrow is Friday at noon. Judging happens that afternoon. Then on Saturday morning, the rest of the park fills up with vendor booths and a stage.

But this year that schedule was disrupted by a severe weather forecast for Wednesday night, forcing all preparation into a day and a half at the end of the week.

“The last thing you want to do is to put up (your scarecrow) up and have it rained on,” Stinchfield said.

The first scarecrows didn’t appear in the park until Thursday morning, Stinchfield said. “Friday was cuckoo,” she said. So the committee pushed the deadline from noon on Friday to 2 p.m., she said.

Apparently it all worked out anyway. The number of entries in the contest was typical, compared to past years, Stinchfield said.

This was the 15th annual “Scarecrow in the Park.” The festival has expanded steadily each year, and now has reached the level where it will probably remain for the foreseeable future, Stinchfield said.

The biggest change in recent years has been in the vendor booths. The festival originally did not have vendors; they were introduced in 2013, Stinchfield said. This year, the seventh with vendors, was the first time that the space reached capacity, and later applicants had to be turned away, Stinchfield said.

“I really felt like this year we were going to crest the wave, and we did,” she said.

There were about 60 vendor booths at the festival, Stinchfield said. Most were artists and craftspeople, plus some nonprofit organizations.

The festival probably will not expand its vendor space, Stinchfield said. There is only so much space in Cushman Park, and organizers want to maintain the other aspects of the festival, like the kids’ activity space and the food vendors’ space.

Contest winners

■Prettiest — “A Fish On,” by the Puchalski family.

■Funniest — “Just Walkin’ the Dogs,” by Margot and Jacob VanNatta.

■Scariest — “Katy’s Kill and Curl,” by Katy Deane.

■Best use of materials — “Charlotte’s Web,” by LaPrade Maya Elise Lily.

■Reading-themed — “Reading with Dr. Seuss and the Grinch,” by Debora and Heather Scoble

■School entry — “A Light in the Attic,” by Kellie Meuse’s fourth-grade class at Bernardston Elementary School.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-772-0261 ext. 261.

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