Scarecrows’ traditional purpose was to scare birds away from crops.
Drive or walk along Main Street in downtown Marion from Oct. 23 through Oct. 30. Observe more than a dozen and perhaps several dozen not so scary yet creatively crafted scarecrows on sidewalks outside a litany of businesses.
“These are not your ordinary scarecrows,” said Kim Vanhoy, Girl Scout Troop 396 troop leader. “These are not scarecrows that you will see out in a hay field.”
Now in its second year, brand it Scarecrow Lane on Main Street.
“We had more than 20 scarecrows,” said Olivia Hall, Marion’s community & economic development administra-tive assistant.
Thanks to three girls from Girl Scout Troop 396 in Marion.
“We were working on coming up with ideas for a Silver Project with the Girl Scouts,” said Taylor Lee Thompson, 14. “It includes community service.”
So Thompson and fellow Girl Scouts Brynnan Jennings and Olivia Vanhoy with help from their troop leader, Kim Vanhoy, turned to scarecrows. They devised what led to Scarecrow Lane in conjunction with downtown Marion and many of its Main Street-centered businesses.
“The Girl Scouts and downtown Marion participated together,” Hall said.
Participating businesses along Marion’s downtown Main Street corridor created scarecrows that complemented their business. The scarecrows were then displayed for about a week on the sidewalk outside each business. A ballot-driven competition, patrons voted for their favorites.
“Our troop entered a scarecrow, too,” Thompson said. “We called it Do-Si-Do Girl (after a particularly favorite among the line of Girl Scouts cookies). She had Mr. Potato Head features on her head.”
The girls attired Do-Si-Do Girl in their troop leader’s old Scouts clothes.
“She was very cute,” Thompson said.
Alas, Do-Si-Do Girl did not win. That distinction fell to the female scarecrow wearing a chef’s hat made by Main Street Gifts and Eatery.
Straw strewn from beneath her hat and from the sleeves of her white jacket. Forks, spoons and knives extended from her sleeves, too. She carried a menu board and featured an endearing smile.
As exhibited by scarecrows entered in last year’s Scarecrow Lane, neither exact form or function dictates the creation of a scarecrow. Make them as you please. Creativity is key. Materials used included straw, wide varieties of clothing, pumpkins, utensils, garbage bags, makeup, bags – most anything.
Thompson’s mother, Tracy Thompson, mined her creativity for a set of scarecrows. Her husband, Bob Thompson, is a dentist whose office is on Main Street.
“I made a scarecrow that looked like my husband,” said Tracy Thompson. “He had a patient in a chair made out of pumpkins. There’s also a tooth fairy flying around.
Sounds fun, right? Quite so.
However, last and again this year, the girls in Girl Scout Troop 396 worked hard. They far exceeded the 50 hours needed to obtain their badge for having completed the Silver Project.
“We did a lot of planning in the summer,” said Olivia Vanhoy, 14, who as with fellow scouts Thompson and Jennings attend Marion Senior High School. “We tried to get everything done in July this year.”
However, they have worked vigilantly since. Around schoolwork, homework and a variety of other school-related extracurricular activities, time was about as plentiful as a cornfield in the middle of Main.
“We just kind of figured when our schedule would correspond,” said Brynnan Jennings. “We did stuff on week-ends and when we could after school.”
That “stuff” of which Jennings refers amounted to a large list of work, most of which they performed last year. It formed a foundation of sorts such that the Scarecrow Lane event could carry forth for years.
“Their goal is to make it an annual event,” Kim Vanhoy said.
Thus inspired they applied equal parts dedication, work and creativity. The girls wrote all of the registration forms and ballots, composed the event’s news release, crafted Scarecrow Lane’s poster, measured sidewalks to obtain proper sizing guidelines such to provide participating businesses with allowable dimensions for their scarecrows and they counted the ballots that determined the winning scarecrow.
“They’re following the same steps they did last year,” Vanhoy said. “They laid the foundation last year.”
Still, regardless of their work instilled, the girls hadn’t an inkling as to how well businesses and the public would respond and participate.
“The girls hoped for maybe three entries last year,” Tracy Thompson said.
They garnered more than 20.
“It was overwhelming,” Thompson said.
And wondrously creative.
Smyth County Advancement of Literacy Education (SCALE) maintained its theme by calling upon Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat for inspiration with its scarecrow. In addition to re-creating her dentist husband via scarecrow, Thompson also contributed a trio of choir robe-wearing scarecrows for Christ Episcopal Church.
Then there was Exalt Academy’s “A Little off the Top” scene. A sign read, “Hay Cut” as a “stylist” leaned over a headless patient. A little off the top, indeed!
And a lot more folks in town.
“It was unbelievable the amount of traffic it brought downtown,” Olivia Hall said.
The girls of Girl Scout Troop 396 began with a goal of obtaining a badge for their sash. They’ve ignited a quest to continue with Scarecrow Lane such to help fuel community spirit and downtown patronage.
“They created an event that people talked about all year,” Kim Vanhoy said. “They are hoping to evolve Scare-crow Lane into something even more.”
Tom Netherland is a freelance writer. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
>> What: 2nd Annual Scarecrow Lane on Main Street
>> When: Oct. 23-Oct. 30
>> Where: Main Street, downtown Marion
>> Admission: Free
>> Info: 276-783-4190