Scarecrow Fest celebrates 28 years

ST. CHARLES—A whimsical autumn tradition among Chicagoland’s Fox Valley residents and visitors alike, this year’s 28th annual Scarecrow Fest, presented for the second year running by AAA Insurance, will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11-13, in St. Charles.

Produced by the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau in conjunction with Ravenswood Event Services, this nationally-recognized festival celebrates and promotes the greater St. Charles area as a tourism destination. Famous for its unique, handcrafted scarecrows, this year’s festival will find the beloved displays located on the west side of the Fox River.

Five of the six scarecrow categories will be located in Lincoln Park, located just north of Main Street (Route 64), between Fourth and Fifth streets. A sixth category, featuring displays created to promote businesses from greater St. Charles, will be displayed at the city’s newest parking lot on the former site of the VFW, located just west of Third Street between Cedar and State streets.

For the first time in fest history, the scarecrows displayed in Lincoln Park will be illuminated by solar-powered path lights, providing attendees with a new vantage point for viewing the whimsical, traditional, children, family and mechanical entries.

Another first for the fest is that the Lincoln Park display will be laid out with the help of a professional set designer, provided by Ravenswood Event Company, chosen by the Greater St. Charles CVB to provide operational support for this year’s event.

Festival attendees will also be able to meet Ted Eynik, who will be on hand during the event to share stories of the 20 elaborate, moving displays he has created during the fest’s history.

“Due to circumstances beyond his control, Ted was not able to enter a Scarecrow in this year’s contest. But, he has become a tradition of our festival, and we know attendees who attended past fests specifically to see his creations will be eager to meet him and see examples of the techniques and elements he used to bring so much enjoyment to so many festival goers,” said Amy Egolf, executive director of the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While Lincoln Park will, once again, boast the main stage for free entertainment, three new entertainment areas—located on 1st Street between Main and Illinois; near the Municipal Center, located on Main and Riverside; and along the Riverwalk that borders the river’s east bank—will encourage foot traffic throughout the city-wide festival grounds.

Attendance at the fest has grown to as many as 150,000 in recent years. To alleviate heavy vehicular traffic congestion in the heart of downtown St. Charles and to provide ease of transportation into the fest grounds for festival goers, visitors are encouraged to use the two remote lots (Charlestowne Mall, Lot H, on the east side; and Illinois and Seventh streets on the west side) and free shuttles.

The festival’s most popular events are back this year, including Windy City Amusement Carnival, the Autumn on the Fox Arts and Crafts show in Pottawatomie Park, and Colonial Ice Cream Eating Contest.

Additionally, Make Your Own Scarecrow enables fest attendees to fashion their very own scarecrows to take home. Due to the popularity of the Make Your Own Scarecrow activity, attendees will be able to choose from two locations: one on First Street, the other in the Municipal Center parking lot—which will reduce the time participants need to stand in line.

This year, participants will not be asked for a donation, and they are encouraged to bring clothes from home if they’d like their scarecrows to have a familiar look. Clothes available at both activity areas have been provided by Savers St. Charles.

Festival food is always a highlight of outdoor events, and this year, Scarecrow Festival will host a variety of food vendors scattered throughout the festival grounds. In addition to traditional festival foods, attendees can also enjoy the many pubs and restaurants located throughout the downtown area.

Since its inaugural year in 1985, the Scarecrow Fest has proven to be a successful, award-winning event for St. Charles. In 2012, Scarecrow Fest was featured on NBC’s Today Show as one of the top fall events in the country.