By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
The very creative and humorous residents of Chester are at it again this fall and have created hundreds of scarecrows to visit at a social distance during the month of COVID-19 October.
This is the 11th and perhaps the most creative year for this fundraiser for the Chester Historical Society where residents buy a base scarecrow for $25 and decorate it.
And boy, do they get creative.
It costs nothing but the gas money. The project is the brilliant brainchild of Jackie Brown, a member of the Chester Historical Society.
“This year has brought spectacular creativity,” Brown said. “I do believe that people this year have had more time because of COVID-19.”
This is a “safer” event, Brown said, because you can do it in your own car. Businesses in the town do have maps and she said there are as many as perhaps 1,100 scarecrows out there in Chester.
Each year, people change up their scarecrow, with the exception of the historical figures and town heroes which are encouraged to remain each year. Brown paints the faces on 100 new base scarecrows each year. The new ones are purchased by the residents for $25 as a donation to the Historical Society and the head and a wooden base are made by her husband, Don.
The faces have various expressions and when a resident buys the base they also buy a look they have to work around with their creation.
Examples of their work and a free map showing all the locations of all the scarecrow are expected to be available today, Oct. 3 at this Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/1655118381437052
You can also review many of the displays for 2020 but I recommend you just go and drive around in the lovely fall foliage – good even to do on a rainy day – and get a laugh and marvel at the creativity.
Chester is very historic and beautiful, a real agrarian sort of town that hasn’t lost its New England charm.
The idea for the “Village People” is not new, and some towns have tried it but few have had the staying power of Chester. The idea actually comes from Scandinavia.
The town of Suomussalmi, Finland, had residents create scarecrows each year for a mass gathering. That was more than 30 years ago. It looks scary because they are all together.
In Chester, the scarecrows are mostly in people’s front yards. But they are all over this historic southern New Hampshire town, not far from Manchester.
Some are scary Halloween scenes, some are of people doing normal fall activities like raking leaves, having a barbecue, rowing in a pond, while some are in public settings, as a covered bridge.
Some are hidden in woods or hanging from trees, randomly, as has been done in the past.
This year, there is even a COVID-19 molecule and an outstanding crop of new scarecrows.
Some scarecrows are getting married, some are kissing, some take on themes from new movies or books. There are a lot of creative animals made from the base. This is just good plain safe fun to drive around and check them out during this difficult season when many of our treasured fall traditions have had to be canceled.
So pack up the kids, mull some cider and bring some donuts and roam Chester this weekend or sometime in October because they all come down after Halloween.