Scarecrow Festivals in the UK

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Scarecrow festivals are held all over the world, but they are especially popular in the United Kingdom, where the use of scarecrows as a protector of crops date from time immemorial. Scarecrows are usually built from straw and wood, but in medieval Britain, scarecrows were young boys who were tasked with the responsibility of scarring away birds. Known as bird scarers or bird shooers, they patrolled wheat fields carrying bags of stones, and chased away any crow or starling that tried to land in the fields by waving their arms and throwing the stones. When the Great Plague of of 1348 wiped half the population in Britain, landowners couldn’t find enough young boys to employ as bird scarers to protect their crops. So they stuffed sacks with straw, carved faces in turnips or gourds, and made scarecrows that stood against poles. Bird scarers continued to patrol British fields until the early 1800s when new factories and mines opened up and offered children better paying jobs.

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A scarecrow of Britain's Prince George and Princess Charlotte with their nanny stands in a garden at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather, Britain, July 28, 2015. Photo credit

Today, hundreds of villages all over Britain bring color, vibrancy and fun to the countryside by organizing Scarecrow Festivals, where residents compete with each other to build the best scarecrow from whatever material they can lay their hands upon — pots and pans, tree stumps and branches, broken furniture and discarded clothing. The scarecrows are then displayed outside their home, in their lawns or on the streets, for all to see. The festivals usually take place in the summer, between May and July, but some towns prefer to hold them in Autumn.

Despite the centuries old tradition with scarecrows, most Scarecrow Festivals in Britain are less that twenty years old. They are organized as a fun activity for both kids and adults and are usually associated with some kind of fund raising for charities.

Some of the towns where the festival is more popular are Kettlewell, Heather, Wray, Barton Mills, Flamstead, Bromyard and many many more. These pictures are from the Heather Scarecrow Festival. Checkout more pictures from the Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival.

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A scarecrow titled "one for the road" at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather. Photo credit

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A family of scarecrows at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather, Britain. Photo credit

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A scarecrow of mechanics working on a Spitfire airplane at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather. Photo credit

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A scarecrow of Olaf from the film Frozen, at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather, Britain. Photo credit

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A  scarecrow titled “Scaredcrows” at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather, Britain. Photo credit

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A scarecrow of singer Tina Turner leans against a bush at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather, Britain. Photo credit

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A scarecrow called “Klondike” at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather. Photo credit

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A cow scarecrow at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather, Britain . Photo credit

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A scarecrow titled “Chocrowolic” at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather, Britain. Photo credit

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A scarecrow of characters from the "Room on a Broom" book at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather. Photo credit

Sources: History of Scarecrows / Wikipedia

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