Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dade City, home to well-dressed scarecrows

DADE CITY — Saturday, the historic courthouse yard will be scattered with straw bodies as families try their hand at scarecrow construction.

What are the best stuffing techniques? And what do you do with your scarecrow if you don't have a cornfield at home for it to guard?

We asked several members of Downtown Dade City Main Street, the organization behind the annual Scarecrow Festival, for tips.

Tip 1: Bring your own clothes

"We have clothes, but we seem to always run out," said Carole Littlefield, Main Street secretary.

Long-sleeved shirts and jeans make for good scarecrow bodies. But don't be afraid to think outside the haystack.

Old Halloween costumes, thrift store bride and groom wedding wear, cowboy clothes, bathrobes and capes are all fair game. Just make sure the clothes will give your scarecrow a human shape.

"There's no arms if you use short sleeves," Littlefield said.

Main Street used to pile a big heap of clothes on the courthouse lawn for festivalgoers to pick through, but that posed problems.

"We had people out there last year trying things on," said Allison Todd, Main Street vice president. "This year, we put everything you need into a bag, and you get what you get."

The idea is to make your scarecrow's frame at the festival, and then bring home to personalize. More on that later. it

Tip 2: Don't overstuff

Hay will be provided for your scarecrow's insides, but go easy on the stuffing.

Too much hay not only weighs down your straw person, it also makes it look "more like a monster than a scarecrow," said Gayle Hogan, Main Street board member.

Tip 3: Add a face

Main Street used to give out panty hose for the scarecrow heads, but now provides brown paper bags.

"Most people don't wear panty hose in Florida; it was too hard to keep a supply," Todd said.

"We found the paper bags are actually sturdier," said Crystal Davenport, Main Street executive director. "It's much easier to draw a face on them and give it a look."

"The face is the best way to make it yours," Todd said. "We suggest you take it home and put on yarn for hair, buttons for noses. We even had one kid that put spaghetti on top of his bag when he got home to make hair."

Other ideas: stick a jack-o'-lantern on top of your scarecrow and use a glow stick instead of a candle to light it up at night. Or place a pumpkin head in the lap of the scarecrow for a headless horseman affect. Stuffed Halloween masks also make for good faces.

Tip 4: Set it up

"Putting it in an old rickety chair out on the porch — since we don't have cornfields to hang them in — is probably the best thing," Hogan said.

Surround your scarecrow with fall flowers, cornstalks or pink flamingos. Place a political sign or a flag for your favorite sports team in its hands. Stick a fearless fake crow on its shoulder.

"I put my scarecrow on bales of hay with pumpkins all around it," Todd said. "My neighbor actually does that, too — she copied me."

Tip 5: Accessorize

"It's the little things that give it some personality," Davenport said.

Tuck the pants into a pair of old shoes. Extra points if you use cowboy boots, Converse All Stars or ruby slippers.

Stuffed gloves are good scarecrow hands. Secure them with twine or a hot glue gun.

Hats, boas and scarves make great additions to your scarecrow, but be sure to secure them so they don't blow away.

Hogan said old-fashioned hair and hat pins are good fasteners, but where are you going to get a set of those?

"You might find them in one of our nice antique stores," Hogan said.

(Did we mention she runs Grapevine Antiques in downtown Dade City?)

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at or (813) 435-7312.

If you go

What: Scarecrow Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. (Arriving early before supplies run out was another tip from our scarecrow pros.)

Where: The lawn surrounding the historic courthouse on Meridian Avenue in Dade City.

How much: Admission is free, but tickets for rides, games and clothes are 25 cents each.

For more: Visit www.dadecitymain

Dade City, home to well-dressed scarecrows 10/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 9, 2008 8:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County


    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts


    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  4. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington


    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.
  5. Former Marine from Florida dies fighting for Kurdish militia

    ORLANDO — A former Marine who secretly traveled to Syria earlier this year to battle the Islamic State was killed while fighting for a Kurdish militia, his father said Tuesday.

    David Taylor, with his father David Taylor Sr., was killed earlier this month in Syria while fighting for a Kurdish militia.