Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I fully enjoy the Scarecrow Invasion & Family Festival, and I have for all of the 17 years that I have lived in this municipality. Sometimes, however, we must get real even about things that we love, and our beloved Scarecrow Invasion is an environmental embarrassment for a municipality that, on paper at least, places an emphasis on environmental responsibility.
We have heard much lip-service about environmental responsibility from residents and elected representatives alike as it pertains to the proposed pumped storage facility at the Tank Range, however our most popular event of the year, though charming, and fun, and a fantastic display of volunteerism for our community, is anything but environmentally responsible, and I think it is time that this community pushes for, and works toward a much greener Scarecrow Invasion for the years to come.
There just has to be a better way than sending 300 scarecrows to the landfill each year. Three hundred scarecrows that are constructed of various materials from wood to garden hoses to plastic bags and newspapers, all encased in old clothing, that after a month exposed to the autumn elements are soggy, and covered in everything from bird and mice droppings, to mold, making them unsafe for a group of volunteers to pull apart, separate the components, and dispose of responsibly, so safety must come first and as a result, off to the landfill they go.
In recent months I have heard many residents point to the Official Plan and the fact that it clearly identifies the environment and environmental concerns as one of the top priorities in this municipality, yet our council offers financial support to the event even though it is a small scale environmental nightmare.
It is because I love the Scarecrow Invasion that I would like to see it step into more modern times by considering the impact of the event on the environment. I think creative minds could find solutions that might change the look of the month-long displays slightly, while maintaining the charm, whimsy, and explosion of colour that it provides us each year.
Perhaps instead of hanging scarecrows from light standards, those could be replaced with flags as are used for many other events held in this municipality. The flags could be colourful and fun, and they could be reused year after year, and a hefty chunk of those 300 scarecrows would not be needed.
Would it be possible to have one or two showcase displays of the traditional scarecrows, while using different options for the other displays? Scarecrow silhouettes cut out of plywood such as this newspaper has created for outside of our office in recent years, could be repainted each year to suit a new theme.
I saw one local business owner create a scarecrow out of a wheelbarrow, some straw and a straw hat on top of the tire representing the head, a pair of gloves on the curved leg braces for the hands, old rubber boots on the handles for feet, and a rake to complete the effect. From my perspective it’s a fun, creative, and eco-friendly approach to supporting the Scarecrow Invasion, and nothing need be sent to the landfill in October.
I like many others have always enjoyed the Scarecrow Invasion from the many creative displays around town, to the parade, and the Family Festival, but for a community that often expresses a desire to protect the environment at all costs, the proposed pumped storage facility for example, we should be realistic about just how environmentally irresponsible the Scarecrow Invasion is, and we should all work toward making it greener.