The Scarecrow Mystery unfolds

By Bette G. Bell | Sep 05, 2013
Scarecrows will be coming to life all over Edmonds this fall.

It has been rumored, by an anonymous source, that scarecrows will be making their appearance in Edmonds in the near future.  According to our source, from the Edmonds Historical Society, they will be ugly, clever, cute and traditional in appearance, and hopefully, they will be found everywhere.

Oops! Did I just give away my mysterious source?  Well, at least not by name.

The history of scarecrows is amazing and goes back more than 3,000 years.

The first scarecrows were found in Egypt along the Nile River. They were nothing like the scarecrows we know, but were humans hiding in the fields, and the birds were not crows, but quails.  The birds were caught in large nets and taken home for dinner!

In the thousand years between the Egyptians and what we know today as a scarecrow, there were many kinds of scarecrows.   A wooden figure of the Greek god Priapus was painted purple.  These Priapus scarecrows were introduced to the Europeans by the Roman Army.

Animal skulls were put on poles and placed in the fields in Italy, small boys waved their arms and threw stones in Medieval Britain, and the American Indians had some very interesting ways of scaring off the crows.

Go to this web site and find some amazing background information about these scary figures called scarecrows.  http://home.comcast.net/~minelson/history_of_scarecrows.htm.

This brings us back to Edmonds, and the question at hand; why will we be seeing scarecrows in our hometown?

This is a community, family-friendly contest.  It is meant to bring the community together in a fun-filled event.

Students, businesses, community members and members of the arts community are all invited to participate.

Let’s have some fun!  Let’s give Edmonds another community event that is something to “crow” about.

There will be three divisions in the contest; businesses in the bowl, businesses outside the bowl, and residences.  The public will vote on the winners.

A delegation from Hekinan, Japan will be visiting Edmonds, and will enjoy seeing the creativity of our community.

Japan has a scarecrow history of its own.

According to a website on the history of scarecrows (http://home.comcast.net/~minelson/history_of_scarecrows.htm): “Japanese farmers also began making scarecrows to protect their rice fields about the same time the Greeks and Romans made their wooden statues.  At first the Japanese farmers hung old rags, meat, or fish bones from bamboo poles in their fields.

“Then they set the sticks on fire and the smell was so bad that birds and other animals stayed away from the rice.  The Japanese farmers called their scarecrows kakashis, which means something that smells badly.

“Soon Japanese farmers also made scarecrows that looked like people.  They were dressed in a raincoat made of reeds and a round straw hat that rose to a peak in the middle.

“Bows and arrows were often added to make them look more threatening.  These scarecrows were also called kakashis even if they didn't stink!”

The scarecrows in Edmonds will be displayed in yards, businesses and community areas.  This will be a great reason to put on those walking shoes and stroll around town.

Now you are probably thinking, I don’t know how to make a scarecrow, but the answer is just a phone call away; the Scarecrow Hotline is 425-774-6507. Written instructions on How to Build a Scarecrow are available.

Winners will be announced at the Historical Society’s fundraising dinner on Nov. 8 at Holy Rosary.

This fall event is sponsored by the Edmonds Museum, DEMA, the Chamber of Commerce and several art groups.  Applications can be found at www.historicedmonds.org.

Are you inspired yet?  Get those creative juices flowing, get the kids involved and have a day away from the computer.

It will be inspiring, a memorable family event that we hope will become a tradition, and we promise no one will have to “eat crow.”  A bad pun, but one that could not be resisted.  You may have to explain it to the younger generation.

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