Village invaded by scarecrows

A CORNER of the region should be free from crows this weekend because of one of the summer's most eagerly anticipated family events.Around 800 scarecrows are about to descend upon the village of Barton Mills for its fifth bi-annual scarecrow festival.

A CORNER of the region should be free from crows this weekend because of one of the summer's most eagerly anticipated family events.

Around 800 scarecrows are about to descend upon the village of Barton Mills for its fifth bi-annual scarecrow festival.

Festive figures of all shapes and sizes fashioned from straw by many of the villagers had already sprouted around the village yesterday morning, when the dawn of the festival was heralded by the lighting of a ceremonial torch in keeping with this year's Olympian theme.

As fans of Worzel Gummidge will recall, a lighted torch is an uneasy bedfellow for a scarecrow, but organisers have promised the flame will be kept a safe distance from the exhibits.


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Liz Brotherton, one of the organisers behind the event, said: "We are having an Olympian theme this year, not just in the athletic sense, but in all sorts of interpretations of the word, for instance there is a Pavarotti scarecrow, which is Olympian in size.

"I think we can safely say that we are the only village in the country who will be lighting an Olympic torch this year."

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Other specimens who achieved Olympian stature and whose effigies form part of the festival include Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Thatcher.

Villagers have been preparing not only for an influx of straw people but also up to 20,000 by visitors from all over the UK who come to witness the spectacle.

Crowd numbers have soared since the festival was started ten years ago, and with the combination of its growing popularity and predicted good weather organisers are expecting another bumper year.

The event has already entered the record books as its second ever festival earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for having the most scarecrows displayed in one place, with more than 1,000 on show.

Even people behind the scenes, who might be expected to have grown used to the sights, have not failed to fall for the scarecrows' charms.

"I've just walked through the village," said Mrs Brotherton, "And by the time I got to the end of the street, I was grinning away to myself, people must have thought I was an idiot."

The Manor has laid on a particularly grand contribution, with scarecrow athletes depicting the Olympics in their most original form, with all competitors in the nude, as was the custom in ancient Greece, along with an authentic life-sized chariot drawn by a fine pair of chargers.

Besides men of straw, there will be a host of other diversions of the village's many visitors, with a flower festival continuing the Olympian theme in the church, live music, a barbecue, a fun dog show, songs of praise and scarecrow workshop for children.

The festival will raise money for the refurbishment of the village hall and the East Anglian Air Ambulance, and a number of local charities.

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