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Barton Mills Scarecrow Festivals

s.crow-Dates.jpg (45057 bytes)In June 2000 the third Barton Mills Scarecrow Festival was held. In 1999 the village had claimed a world record for having more scarecrows than anyone else and our fame had spread far and wide. People from the north of England were encouraged to spend a "weekend away"s.crow-Guinn Record Holder.jpg (35618 bytes) at the Scarecrow Village of Barton Mills, and we had featured on several radio programmes, even an in-depth interview on Radio Scotland. There was a long article about us in the Suffolk Journal, several local newspapers were interested and more television coverage was promised. So what could we do this time?

It was decided that there should be a general theme of famous people, especially Christians, from the last two millennia but that, once again, any scarecrows of any type would be welcome. Then, inspired by a local sculptor, a few people learnt how clay masks of their own faces could be made and very soon dozens of scarecrows appeared with clay faces closely resembling their human creators. In s.crow-Congregation.jpg (48581 bytes)fact, there was a complete congregation in the church who looked very much like the regular congregation, but who kept very still and who stayed strangely silent. Even the vicar stood all day in the pulpit, looking very human but with straw emerging from his cassock.

Scarecrows around the village included Mother Theresa, John Wesley, Nelson Mandela, Florence Nightingale, St Francis of Assisi, s.crow-carriage.jpg (56100 bytes)Winston Churchill, several members of royal families, including Queen Elizabeth 2nd and Prince Phillip in their carriage and many, many more. Characters from various books appeared in front gardens - the Railway Children were there on the platform of their famous station and, of course, Worzel Gummidge made an appearance. In front of the church, Noah and Mrs Noah shepherded their procession of animals - s.crow-Noah's Ark.jpg (63147 bytes)including sheep, pigs, bears, insects and giraffes - two by two into the ark under the watchful gaze of an angel at the top of the tower. The early communion service on Sunday morning was held outside, with the straw animals quietly forming a background for the worship.

s.crow-Champions.jpg (57271 bytes)There were hundreds of scarecrows, but this time no one actually counted how many there were - one record was sufficient! The weekend followed the pattern of the previous two years. Thousands of visitors came to Barton Mills - the playing field that was being used as a car park almost overflowed with hundreds of cars! People strolled around the streets looking at all the scarecrows, enjoying the skills in the making of some and the humour and fun in others; refreshments were served in the Village Hall by members of the W.I. and the Church; the Football Club cooked hot dogs and burgers by the hundred on their barbeque; there were competitions to guess the names of the scarecrows and to follow the clues in a word search; there was a bottle stall, a sweetie stall and a ladybird hunt… and many other things to do and see.

Perhaps most spectacular were the "Open Gardens". Eighteen families opened their gardens, large and small, for visitors to enjoy. Much work went into the displays of flowers and the neatly trimmed lawns and borders. Some gardeners also served teas so that people could rest and enjoy their tea in the fragrant and colourful surroundings of the gardens.

s.crow-concert.jpg (57684 bytes)On the Saturday evening there was a great open-air music party, with music by The Basement Band from Bury St Edmunds. They played music for all ages so that children and their families - and those who came on their own - could dance and join in the fun. The weather was especially kind and, despite rain both before and after the weekend, we all enjoyed brilliant sunshine and warm evenings.

s.crow-Songs of Praise.jpg (50999 bytes)The finale to the weekend was the open-air "Songs of Praise" on the playing field. The congregation included many of the weekend visitors as well as local people, who joined together in worship, praise and thanksgiving for all the blessings of fun, friendship and community in their truest sense. 

Copyright 2000: F. Lewis, L. Brotherton (photos)
see also Scarecrow links

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival ©2000 Designed by ArtAtac