The Transylvania Times -

By Linda Anders
Special To The Times 

Museum To Host Scarecrows On The Lawn


Calling all scarecrows, silly, scary, clever or outrageous. Transylvania Heri-tage Museum will host a Scarecrow Contest on its lawn, Saturday, Oct. 29, during Brevard’s Halloweenfest from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The traditional function of the scarecrow is to keep crows and other birds and animals away from harvest crops. Not only does the human figure purportedly keep animals away, but many scarecrows have noisy pans or knockers attached to them so that with each breeze the scarecrow would frighten away deer or birds.

Originally a replacement for farmers who would sit in the fields and throw rocks at birds, the scarecrow’s attention to the harvest is non-stop and requires no rest periods. The scarecrow form continues a tradition that goes back thousands of years and brings back fond memories of simpler days.

The first scarecrows in recorded history were made along the Nile River to protect wheat fields from flocks of quail. Later, Greek farmers carved wooden scarecrows to look like one of their gods who was very ugly. They painted the figures purple and put a club in one hand to make the statue look more dangerous and a sickle in the other for a good harvest. The Romans copied the Greek custom and made carved scarecrows, too. When Roman armies invaded places like France, Germany, and England, they introduced the people who lived there to scarecrows.

Japanese farmers also began making scarecrows to protect their rice fields. Their scarecrows looked like people who were dressed in a raincoat made of reeds and a round straw hat that rose to a peak in the middle. Bows and arrows were often added to make them look more threatening.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, farmers made scarecrows which they believed had special powers. In Italy skulls of animals were placed on the tops of tall poles in the fields to scare away birds and protect crops from diseases. In Germany farmers made wooden witches and put them in their fields at the end of winter. They believed that witches would draw the evil spirit of winter into their bodies so spring could come.

To protect their corn crops Native American tribes throughout North America used scarecrows. In the American Southwest in the late 1800s, Zuni children had contests to see who could make the most unusual scarecrow.

Immigrants who moved to the United States brought with them a variety of ideas for making scarecrows. Until the end of World War II, when farming became big business and farmers started spraying or dusting their crops with chemicals, scarecrows were very popular and could be found all across America.

Today, no autumn harvest or fall decorations would be complete without the presence of a traditional scarecrow figure. The scarecrow is part of our universal memories from days gone by. Many communities across the United States, Canada and England hold scarecrow festivals each fall, drawing hundreds of entries and thousands of visitors, appealing to scarecrow makers and lookers of all ages. Doctors, firemen, robots, pets, explorers, schoolchildren, images of people and characters famous and infamous have been created from straw, old clothing and various props. Scarecrows are made with straw, pumpkin, fabric or paper heads doing various things, such as playing the fiddle or riding a bicycle.

In Transylvania County this year, businesses, nonprofits, individuals and groups of all descriptions are invited to submit their creations to the Scarecrows on the Lawn contest. The official entry form, contest rules and some photos for ideas are available at the museum or for download at

Submit an entry or choose your favorite at Transylvania Heritage Museum’s Scarecrows on the Lawn contest during Brevard’s Halloweenfest. (Courtesy photo)

The deadline for submitting an entry form is Oct. 28, 2011. Children under 18 and nonprofit group entries are free. Adult individuals, families or groups are $15. For-profit business entries are $25.

Come by the museum to see the scarecrows during Halloweenfest. Visitors will vote ($1/vote) for their favorites and bragging rights will be awarded to the winners. Donated scarecrows will be for sale, and all funds will be used to help keep the museum operating.

Scarecrow judging will be by popular vote of visitors. Voting ends at 4:30 p.m. All winners will be announced at the museum porch at approximately 5 p.m.

A $50 cash prize will be awarded to the first place winner.

For more information on other upcoming events, volunteering or sponsorships, call (828) 884-2347, go to, or visit the museum at 189 W. Main St. in Brevard, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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