Scare up some Halloween fun with the Beautification Committee

Tracy Munn and Libba Fairleigh
Special to Black Mountain News

A scarecrow is an icon, and not just for Americans. For thousands of years scarecrows have helped humans save their crops from crows and other hungry predators. In addition, scarecrows have provided an outlet for human creativity since the earliest days of civilization.

Greek farmers around 2500 B.C. carved wooden scarecrows to look like the famously ugly son, Priapus, of the god Dionysys and the goddess Aphrodite. They painted their wooden scarecrows purple and put a club in one hand to scare away the birds and a sickle in the other to ensure a good harvest.

In the United States, immigrant German farmers made human looking scarecrow called “bootzamon,” which was later changed to bogeyman. In the Southwest, Zuni children had contests to see who could make the scariest scarecrows.

Black Mountain has it’s own scarecrows eager to thrill and frighten. Rocky and Rockette will return to Town Square for their sixth and seventh year.

Children from Black Mountain Primary will be creating two new "funcrows" to add to the mix this year, while members of the Black Mountain Beautification Committee will be creating scarecrows that will greet visitors and locals at each of the welcome signs in town.

Won’t you join in scaring up some Halloween spirit in our town this fall? Town Square will have its own scarecrow village with your help. 

Making a scarecrow, whether decorative or to keep unwanted garden guests away at your business, home or garden, is easy. How about following our proven directions for creating your own scarecrow for your business or residence.

Materials for scarecrows can be simple, yet should be sturdy. Scarecrows must stand up to wind, rain, heat, cold and even snow in Western North Carolina, so make sure everything is strong enough to last all extremes of weather. Begin with a strong frame—a simple cross of bamboo poles or PVC pipe that can hold your scarecrow.

To create a head for the scarecrow use recyclables such as an empty milk jug, old pantyhose, a pillowcase or burlap. A head gives the scarecrow a human look. It is at this point that naming a scarecrow is important. A name is a word or set of words by which a person, animal, place or thing is known. Having a name in mind helps to establish the mood for your creation. Certainly humans name their children and pets, so why not the scarecrow.

To create the head, stuff the container that is the head with plastic grocery bags.

Decorate the face with scraps of fabric glued on, buttons, or other items to your liking. Attach the head to top of pole and tie off at neck with twine.

Through trail and error, members of the Beautification Committee have concluded that plastic grocery bags used as stuffing for the whole scarecrow hold up the best in the rain. Newspapers are definitely not recommended. Use a small amount of hay as decoration at head, cuffs, and legs.

Clothing options are unlimited and create the fun and whimsy. Other items needed to create your scarecrow can include hammers, nails, a glue gun, duct tape, needle and thread, plastic bags, rebar, wire, straw and dried flowers. 

To create the body have lots of plastic bags available; this is an opportunity to creatively recycle. Place the shirt over pole, stuff, stuff and stuff with plastic bags, and button the shirt. Tie off ends of sleeves with hay and twine and tie shirt around waist onto the pole.

An aside, this article is about creating a scarecrow that stands and wears pants. Should a sitting scarecrow be needed, arranging the bottom half will be a bit different. Creating a scarecrow with a dress is much simpler and certainly more elegant.

To create the body of the scarecrow put the end of the pole through one pants leg. Stuff legs with lots and lots of plastic bags. Before putting a belt on the scarecrow, use twine through belt loops to cinch in waist. Attach the shirt to pants with lots of safety pins and tie off bottoms of legs with twine.

To finish off the scarecrow, attach boots/shoes to legs of pants. Attach gloves for hands using twine or safety pins and attach any hat securely. Two things are left to do: Add embellishments to your liking and have fun.