Scarecrow workshops offered ahead of PumpkinFest

Robert Plasse and Lisa Sunderland Burns stand among several scarecrows created for the Scarecrow Trail, part of PumpkinFest, which takes place Oct. 16-31. (JAMES JOHNSON-CORWIN PHOTO)

Unique faces are created for scarecrows that will be displayed throughout the city for the Westfield on Weekends’ PumpkinFest Scarecrow Trail. (ROBERT PLASSE PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – Throughout history, scarecrows have been figures in literature, myths, movies and, of course, as decoys to ward off crows and other birds on farms and in backyard gardens. Beginning Oct. 16, they will also welcome fall throughout the city.

Westfield on Weekends (WOW) is hosting a Scarecrow Trail as part of its re-imagined PumpkinFest. This fourth annual festival is normally hosted downtown on one day, but because of the ongoing pandemic, organizers have created socially distanced ways to celebrate the season. A self-guided Scarecrow Trail, drive-by Haunted House Tour, drive-in movie and coloring activity round-out the ways the community can engage in PumpkinFest 2020. Details of all events are available at westfieldonweekends.com and WOW’s Facebook page.

Residents and businesses can participate in the Trail by creating a scarecrow and display it from Oct. 16-31. Participants will be marked on an interactive Google map, along with the homes on the Haunted House tour.

WOW Co-President Robert Plasse has been getting ready for the Trail, creating scarecrows with WOW board and PumpkinFest Committee members James Johnson-Corwin and Lisa Sunderland Burns. The trio are creating pre-made scarecrows for participants who want to be part of the Trail but don’t have the time to make their own scarecrow.

“We love thinking outside the box, looking at what wardrobe I have on hand and going from there,” said Plasse. “Once you have a theme for your scarecrow, it is full-steam ahead. We cannot wait to get started on the scarecrows we are making for Baystate Noble Hospital – a doctor and a nurse – facemasks will be required!”

WOW is offering a Scarecrow Making Workshop series for anyone who wants to make a scarecrow but needs a little help.

Plasse said there will be six safe-distanced, sanitized scarecrow-making spaces with a maximum of four persons per space. Masks are required. The workshops will be hosted on two consecutive Saturdays, Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 at the Creative Arts Center at 105 Elm St. at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., with an evening workshop Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m. There is a fee, and proceeds will benefit WOW programming. Reservations are required by calling 413-579-5967 or email [email protected].

The workshops will be led by expert crafter Jennipher McCabe, who said “our workshop offers families the chance to create scarecrows that are fun and easy to craft. I love that the WOW Creative Arts Center has made it possible for us to create in safe and responsible way.”

Scarecrow kits are available to purchase. They offer the framework to build from your imagination, said McCabe.

“Each kit has instructions to assemble the PVC pieces that have been cut specifically for a life-size scarecrow,” she said. “I would recommend using duct tape to secure the joints of the scarecrow after they are tightly attached. This will ensue steadiness for the straw person.”

McCabe said makers may want to use a broomstick or wooden pole placed into the hollow tailbone of the scarecrow to place into the ground. The scarecrows, once dressed in whatever folks wish, are able to lean against a wall or be attached to a lamppost or tree.

Creating the scarecrow’s head is something McCabe and Plasse said is a key component to the scarecrow.

“The scarecrow head can be made by using a pillowcase. Tie the ends of a pillowcase together, fill the scarecrow with plastic bags; draw a face onto it with a magic marker or use buttons and cut felt or ribbons to create a face. and you are good to go,” McCabe said.

Plasse, who said he is not the artist of the group, has enjoyed creating scarecrows for city businesses.

“Believe me, I am not an artist by any stretch but have had fun, especially creating the heads, using pipe cleaners, ribbons and felt with a clue gun to create scarecrows of which I can be proud — If I can do it, anyone can,” he said.

The WOW scarecrow kit frames don’t require stuffing for the body. For those making their own scarecrow without the frame, McCabe said rags or plastic bags are good stuffing materials, especially if your scarecrow will live outside.

The scarecrow kits were created by Gary Midura who created the first Scarecrow Trail for WOW’s Colonial Harvest Day.  Midura worked with L & R Sales of West Springfield; Wilsonart International, New England Custom Counters (NECC) of Westfield and Betts Plumbing and Heating Supply Company, Inc. of Westfield to make his vision for the kits a realty.

“WOW could not be more grateful to him and these five generous companies,” said Plasse.


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