SPRING HILL — Scarecrows and pumpkin painting. Country music, balloon twisting and a scavenger hunt.
The Spring Hill Garden Club believes it's a fitting way to welcome autumn with Saturday's inaugural Scarecrows in the Garden kickoff at the Nature Coast Botanical Gardens.
The event will include dozens of scarecrows — created by individuals, clubs and other groups — set among the themed gardens.
The day's festivities will include entertainment by popular country music singer George Marshall. There will be activities and games for children, including face painting, pumpkin painting and a scavenger hunt. Tony the Balloon Guy will entertain.
The main attraction will be the scarecrows. So far, there are about 30.
"We were hoping for 60 scarecrows," said Shirley Jacques, publicity director for the garden club. "But this is a good start."
Visitors can vote for their favorites for $1 per vote. Voting will continue through Nov. 15. Envelopes for votes will be available to leave in donation boxes.
Also, in conjunction with the Scarecrows in the Gardens event, there will be a plant sale at the adjacent Spring Hill Garden Club plant nursery. The sale will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Jacques said anyone who wishes to enter a scarecrow can still do so.
"They can bring the scarecrows on Saturday," she said.
The entry fee is $10 per scarecrow.
The event, Jacques said, is the brainchild of garden club member Mia Auger, who is also an artist. Jacques said Auger spearheaded the popular Artists in the Gardens event earlier this year, which was an "overwhelming success." Saturday's event is designed to be a fun time for families and children.
"Mia deserves all the credit," Jacques said. "She is an extremely talented woman. … She thought this would be fun, especially for the children."
The only costs are the optional votes for the scarecrows and a $1 fee for the pumpkin painting. Raffle tickets will be sold — $1 each or six for $5 — to win a number of gifts and services.
While admission is free, donations are appreciated.
"We really need donations," Jacques said.
Proceeds will go toward the garden club's upkeep and operation of the landmark Spring Hill waterfall at Commercial Way and Spring Hill Drive. Jacques says the expenses are ongoing.
Another ongoing expense is the replacement of the flags at the waterfall, which typically has to be done about every three months.
Jacques said the Spring Hill flag was recently replaced by garden club member Brigette Haag.
"Brigette made the flag, using the same cardinal and dogwood symbols," she said. "It's absolutely beautiful. The colors are brighter, and the flag has extra reinforcement to make it stronger."
Recently, the club spent about $2,000 to drain the pool, fix cracks and repaint it. Then shortly after, someone dumped oil into the water, forcing club members to drain the pool again.
"These things happen occasionally," Jacques said. "And it's all added expenses. Our need for support is year-round. … If everyone in Spring Hill could just donate $1, wouldn't that be wonderful?"