The intent of a scarecrow is to scare birds away, but in downtown Seymour, they have a different purpose.
Twenty-one local businesses have created and displayed unique scarecrows outside their storefronts this month in an effort to attract people downtown to participate in the annual Scarecrow Stroll.
In its third year, the event is organized by Seymour Main Street as a fun fall activity to increase foot traffic downtown and interaction between merchants and the public.
“I think it’s picking up more attention because the scarecrows get better and better each year,” said Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street. “This is the most we’ve ever had.”
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She got the idea for the Scarecrow Stroll after seeing it done in another small Indiana town, she said.
To participate, businesses had to come up with a scarecrow that represented their business or company mission in some way.
The scarecrows will remain up through the end of the month, and people can stop by the businesses to vote for their favorite. Each participating location has a ballot box inside.
“We get tons of votes every year,” Schepman said.
A winning scarecrow will be crowned on Halloween. The winner receives a plaque to display for a year and a gift certificate for a downtown restaurant. Last year’s winner was Bite the Bullet, and in 2017, Accents Beauty Salon won.
At the Jackson County Public Library, visitors are greeted with a scarecrow from a famous scene from the movie “E.T. Extra-Terrestrial.”
Library employee Angie Cursey has come up with the library’s scarecrows all three years.
“I think about what materials I have at my disposal and came up with the idea based on how difficult it would be to create something Halloweeny that people would recognize,” Cursey said.
Library Director Julia Aker said Cursey’s scarecrows always get a lot of attention. Last year, she created Minions scarecrows.
“She put a lot of work into it, and it looks pretty good, especially on the corner where the flag spotlight hits it,” Aker said of the E.T. scarecrow.
But not everybody appreciates the pop culture reference.
“I did have a 90-year-old man ask last week what it was supposed to be,” Aker said.
Having a movie display is very fitting, Aker said, since the library recently added Kanopy, a free movie streaming service for patrons, and in September, nonprint items, including movies, surpassed print items in circulation.
Smith Law Services took their scarecrow to new heights by hanging him, literally, on the side of the building. They chose to use Spider-Man as their scarecrow, and he is trapping a villain with a web.
“We always try to come up with something creative that will bring joy to others, and this year, we wanted to focus on the kids,” Carrie Smith said. “Since our building is right on the corner and at the heart of the Downtown Trick or Treat event, we thought it made sense to do something the kids would recognize.”
Smith’s mother, Elaine Pollert, who also works at the business, came up with the idea.
“We had to really think outside the box to fill the suit and make him look real,” Smith said. “We wanted the scarecrow to hang high enough to make the scene look like something you would actually see Spider-Man doing, yet low enough for kids who want to get a picture with him. And let’s face it, that bad guy doesn’t stand a chance against Spidey and his giant web.”
The response from the community has been overwhelming, Smith said.
“At any given time, you can look down from the second or third floor and see folks taking pictures and selfies or pointing as they walk or drive by,” she said. “We’ve also heard from so many parents and grandparents that they have made special trips downtown just to see it. A few kiddos have even thought he was real.
“That is the coolest thing about it, seeing people get excited about something we put together,” she said.
Although the Scarecrow Stroll isn’t a moneymaker for businesses, Kevin Greene, owner of Artistic Impressions, said he still loves the event, and it’s a good way to bring people downtown.
He created a scarecrow made entirely of different sized picture frames from his shop.
“I love to see what everyone else comes up with for their scarecrow,” he said. “I definitely see a lot of people that walk through the downtown looking at them.”
The Scarecrow Stroll creates camaraderie among the business owners and a sense of community, Schepman said.
“Business owners love this event,” she said. “They get to be creative, and it gets their employees working together for a fun goal to create the scarecrow. I just heard from a business owner this morning that he has had a lot of people stopping in front of his business this year, taking pictures and then coming into his store. He loves the extra foot traffic.”
While strolling around downtown, people also are invited to stop by Steinker Platz on South Chestnut Street to see a Halloween display.
Last week, employees of Schuler Bauer Real Estate and Bailey and Wood Financial Group decorated the park with a cemetery theme, spiders, cobwebs, skeletons and pumpkins and put string lights in the trees.
“We were just thinking of different ways to give back, and we’ve been involved with the Downtown Trick or Treat and thought it would be nice to bring a little Halloween park to the kids this year and make it more fun and interactive,” said Pam Kindel, office manager for Schuler Bauer.
“I just hope that they get to enjoy family time together and go out and check it out,” she said. “We’re happy to be a part of the downtown community.”
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To vote for your favorite scarecrow in Seymour Main Street’s third annual Scarecrow Stroll, visit the participating business while they are open. Each location has a ballot box inside.
The winning scarecrow will be announced on Halloween.
Participating businesses are:
Jackson County Public Library
B2 Bikes and Boards
City of Seymour
SIHO Insurance Services
Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce
Seymour Decorating Center
New Legacy Wealth Management
Blush and Brush Beauty Bar
Ude for Mayor office
Rails Craft Brew and Eatery
Bite the Bullet
Jackson County Visitor Center
NStylz Hair Design
Schuler Bauer Real Estate
Seedlings + Company
Carol King Real Estate
Automotive Equipment Specialist Inc.
CPR Cell Phone Repair