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Scarecrows are one of the most classic figures of the rural landscape.
But, in the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution largely wiped out scarecrow populations everywhere when they lost utilitarian function. Today, technologically-savvy farmers have experimented with electronic scarecrows, or pop-up balloon types.
But in Coupeville, classic, hodgepodge scarecrows are making a comeback, and are looking less like fright tactics and more like art.
At the intersection of State Route 20 and Main Street, a friendly scarecrow is positioned to wave at traffic. Further down the street, scarecrows and scarecows exchange smiles.
This is the seventh October that scarecrows have made their appearance, as the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce challenges residents to create their own versions of the ragged figures, following a cow theme this year.
“There used to be a lot of dairies in the area,” Lynda Eccles, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said.
Teacher Tami Aparicio’s class at Central Whidbey Co-op Preschool created a scarecrow out of mostly recycled materials. The body is made from milk cartons found at the school and large-size milk cartons, collected from local coffee shops, were used for the arms and legs.
“The idea came one day when we were teaching the kids about recycling,” Aparicio said. “Now it’s become a fun message for the community.”
The students’ scarecrow, named “Really Cute Scarecrow,” is outside the Methodist Church and was the winner this year of the coveted “Chamber Award.”
Aparacio said at the end of the Scarecrow Corridor contest, “Really Cute Scarecrow” will be disassembled and recycled.
A scarecrow outside of Whidbey General Hospital is tending a group of serene-looking cows. It was made out of scavenged materials such as wood and metal. Named “Scarecrow and Scarecows,” the group from Island Transit won “Best Commercial” for their piece.
“We made two lady cows with the sweetest faces,” Martha Rose, executive director of Island Transit, said.
Other winners included “Milkmaid Scarecrow” submitted by the Holland family for “People’s Choice Award,” and “Moo-la Cashes In” by Whidbey Island Bank for “Best Theme Development.”
About 20 entries were submitted this year, and some residents even created scarecrows after the sign-up date, Eccles said.
“We got concerned when we didn’t see that many scarecrows lining the street, then suddenly, they appeared overnight,” Eccles said.
The theme for next year’s Scarecrow Corridor was announced Wednesday: “The Pirates of Coupeville.”
The scarecrows are located along Coupeville’s Main Street. Stop by and have a look.