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Local

Scaring Up Some Fun: Scarecrow Fest expands offerings for 29th year

ST. CHARLES – The west part of downtown St. Charles isn’t the only place this weekend to catch all of the action at the 29th annual Scarecrow Fest, its organizers said. This year’s fest will feature an activity zone east of the Fox River in the municipal parking lot north of the St. Charles Municipal Building, 2 E. Main St. in St. Charles. The zone will have a different theme for each day of the three-day festival, which begins today and concludes Sunday, said Jason Pawlowski, festival liaison and marketing manager at the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

“It’s a good opportunity to utilize some of the activities that people like on both sides of the fest,” Pawlowski said.

The activity zone’s first theme will be “Farmin’ Friday,” which will include Gardeners Gardening Demos, a petting zoo and food to buy from the Windy Acres Farm Fruit and Veggie Stand. A doughnut-eating competition will be at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. during “Spooky Saturday,” along with a Halloween Costume Sale with various items to buy, Pawlowski said.

The final theme day is “Sunday Fun Day,” which will include henna tattoos, balloon animals and a 1:30 p.m. ice cream eating contest sponsored by Hilton Garden Inn. The staple of the festival, of course, remains the 100-plus scarecrows featured in the west part of downtown St. Charles. Scarecrows created by businesses are set up in the Veterans parking lot on Third Street between State and Cedar streets. Scarecrows from all the other categories – mechanical, traditional, whimsical, children’s and family – will be at Lincoln Park on Main Street between Fourth and Fifth streets in St. Charles.

The Wilbur family of St. Charles on Thursday set up their “Spongebob Strawpants” scarecrow in Lincoln Park. Megan Wilbur, 12, and her brother Joey, 9, modeled their scarecrow with a square-shaped straw body after Spongebob Squarepants, a cartoon character. The siblings placed their bale inside a tub with the head sticking out and spray painted the tub to resemble Spongebob’s clothes.

“I think it looks really good, a lot better than last year,” Megan said.

She said she had so much fun creating an anti-bullying scarecrow with her friends in 2013 that she decided to enter the Scarecrow Contest’s family category this year. She said she and her friends are in a friendly competition to see who can get the most votes in the category this year. Winners will be announced at the fest’s closing ceremonies at 4:30 p.m. Sunday on the Cadence Health/Northwestern Medicine Stage at Lincoln Park.

The Wilbur siblings said their favorite parts of the fest are the scarecrows and the carnival rides. Another favorite for families is the opportunity to stuff and dress up their own scarecrows to bring home at the Fifth Third Bank Make Your Own Scarecrow activity. Attendees can participate from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Filling Station parking lot west of Third Street between Cedar and Main Street.

“It’s been very popular for us for a long time,” Pawlowski said of the activity.

The festival will have live performances all weekend long with acts roaming the entire fest, on the Downtown Entertainment Stage at the municipal parking lot and at Lincoln Park. The final act will be during the closing ceremonies, where Ryan Caldwell and his band, Fight With Monsters, will give the debut live performance of the song “What’s in a Scarecrow?”

“This song will actually end up serving as the actual anthem for a yearlong marketing campaign called ‘Year of The Scarecrow,’ ” Pawlowski said.

Go and do
What: The 29th annual St. Charles Scarecrow Fest
When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Downtown St. Charles
Cost: Free admission (food and drinks available to buy)
Information: 800-777-4373 or www.scarecrowfest.com

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