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Scarecrows: The Votes Are In!

by Francesca Flaxton – 17th June 2020
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Results and Feedback from the 2020 Haddenham Scarecrow Festival

How it began

The 5th Annual Haddenham Scarecrow Festival has absolutely blown me away and exceeded all possible expectations. Who would have thought it possible to receive more entries and raise more money than ever before, against all the odds, in lockdown?!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who entered, donated, followed the trail and supported in other ways (more specific thank you's later).

From early March, Haddenham's clubs, societies, shops, businesses, schools, churches were closing and all our much-loved community events were sadly having to be cancelled. Lockdown was announced and we all stayed at home.

I wondered, just wondered, could we still run our Scarecrow Festival? After all, it's an outdoor event that fits in perfectly with social distancing rules plus I should have more time available to organise it and others should have more time to take part! The main motivator was to cheer people up by providing residents with something fun to do in very difficult times. The Scout and Guide Association's Chairman Richard Kendall and the committee unanimously agreed. We had already chosen to support the Medical Detection Dogs charity back in January, but when the news broke that the Government were backing research into the dogs' ability to detect Covid-19, it all fell into place.

There were certainly challenges along the way......no Maypole event to kick-start recruitment.......having to set up Justgiving and BACS donation options for the first time.......no opportunity to work face-to-face with others as a team........working out how to make Trail maps and lists available online ......sourcing a limited low-cost supply of paper copies when all printing companies were closed....... a very few voices of dissent......no village Fete to launch the Festival. But each hurdle was overcome, the entries kept arriving and donations began to come in, which confirmed that an event like this was exactly what the vast majority of people wanted and needed.

The results

The record number of scarecrows, the fab gallery of photos on Haddenham.net and the sight of happy socially distanced people following the Trail throughout the Festival fortnight speak for themselves, but below are the vital statistics. I will be arranging a photo and award for the creators of your Three Favourite Scarecrows. Congratulations to each of them!

  • In the end there were 140 fantastic creations (the previous highest was 71 in 2018; last year there were 60)
  • The gallery of Flickr photos on Haddenham.net website has been viewed 2,100 times
  • Generous donations in aid of the Medical Detection Dogs have been made on our Justgiving page, by BACS, via CAF accounts, by cheque and in cash, further boosted by Gift Aid. Taking everything into account, I anticipate that the Festival will raise a staggering total of over £4000, which is 4 times more than the event has ever raised in its 5 year history. We will continue to welcome donations until the end of June.
  • I received (and replied to) more than 350 votes by text or email, the vast majority of which contained combined views of families, so I estimate 1500 2000 people chose and voted for their favourites
  • Although not organised as a competition, people were invited to vote for their 3 favourites. The votes have been scrupulously counted, witnessed and verified and the results are as follows:

First Favourite
By far the most popular was No 43 "Where are those Pesky Moles" by Kate Hollick and Florence Banister at Manor Farm

Second Favourite
The second favourite was no 22, "Florence Nightingale" by the charity's Haddenham Community Support Group, displayed in Townside.

Third Favourite
The 3rd most popular was No 41 "Pearl the Pirate Mermaid" by Margaret and David Ackroyd at Churchend.

  • By popular request, I am researching the possibility and cost effectiveness of producing simple merchandise, the aim of which will be to showcase photos of the most popular scarecrows and further boost our fundraising
  • Due to the very high standards and the sheer numbers, most people found it really hard to choose. Each and every scarecrow has been created with love and care, but other favourites receiving the highest numbers of votes in order of popularity were: The Battle of Dragon Tail, The Stunt, Garden Gossip, Rapunzel in Rudds Lane, The American Dream, Slam Drunk, Retro Indoor Sport, Sherlock Bones, The Family at No 10, Not Another Walk, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Stew-Art-Bow, Staycation, Pippi Longstocking, 2020 Essentials, Can you Believe I'm a Scarecrow, "Cumming to a Castle Near you", PandaMick, Crash Landings, Peppa & George Pig, Flamboyant Freda, Frontline Finnigan, "Tomorrow will be a Good Day", Spiderman Seb, The Gingerbread Man and Cul-de-Cocktail. Also popular were "Where's Wally Now?", Flamenco Floramaria, Snoopy, "Hope Yew Will Smile" , Emerging from Lockdown and Scuba Girl.
  • Every single entrant will receive a Certificate of Participation

Thank you's from the Scout and Guide Association and from me!

  • ALL the fantastic entrants – we wouldn't have a Festival without you!
  • Everyone who donated to our cause. We're continuing to welcome donations until the end of June.
  • Alan Rose at Haddenham Museum for allowing me to splat red dots all over his fantastic map.
  • MASSIVE thanks to Keith Milmer at Haddenham.net for ALL his help with promotion, moral support, enabling the map and list to be available online and assembling the Gallery of photos
  • Melissa and Rainee for sorting and sourcing map printing – just when it seemed impossible
  • Kate at Haddenham Garden Centre, Jane and staff at Bradmoor Farm, Helen at 70 Stanbridge Road and James at The Bakery for having Trail maps available on your premises
  • Two very friendly police officers who visited me, looking for a map one day when on patrol. They very much enjoyed the scarecrows and were impressed by everyone's sense of humour and safe social distancing!

What residents and visitors had to say:

"Very difficult choice as they were all fabulous. Thanks so much for organising this it was absolutely wonderful. We spent 5 hours on Monday walking around the village looking at them all. Definitely the best day I've had since early March. Thanks." Alison

"What a fabulous display around the village. All the entrants have gone to so much trouble. With all that is going on at the moment it has been great to have a little light relief for the last couple of weeks. The festival has not only given families a project to complete it has also encouraged people to get out and have some exercise in a safe way while searching for each scarecrow. The festival came just at the right time to boost spirits.

Thank you to everyone for the organisation and participation. It has been a joy. Nikki Summers"

"From our vantage point on Townsend Green the festival has been an unqualified success. We've never seen so many people here, walkers, picnickers and games players. It's a pity we haven't had a people counting device. There has been a constant procession of the young and older, many clutching your maps, well over a hundred every day and lots more at weekends when there's been an almost constant flow. People working at home and children mostly not being at school have made scarecrow hunting the thing to do, the project of the day, just as making the exhibits obviously was before that. We hope that you get the financial success you deserve." Peter and Marie Woodrow

"It was so hard to make a decision! There were so many fabulous entries and it bought a lot of excitement and smiles to the village during this awful time! We only moved to the village in March and our family and friends have loved seeing the photos we have taken on our walks. A positive, feel good experience. Thank you for organising!"
Liz Howie

"Congratulations on a brilliant scarecrow festival. Haven't smiled so much for weeks." Brian Bowman
President, Haddenham Village Society"

"Well done to you for organising such a successful festival there are some real beauties around. Just what the village needs." Margaret

"Firstly I just wanted to congratulate you and the local community on such a fabulous event. You can really see the community spirit and it has created such a fun and positive experience for everyone. Myself and my two young children, thoroughly enjoyed it and where blown away by all the creativity and humour." The Boyles

"We are a family of four and really enjoyed following the map around the village and viewing all of the wonderful scarecrows. It was great fun finding so many to look at and seeing the creativity and humour of their creators. Well done and thank you to everybody involved." The Deans Family

"Thank you for making my lockdown walks so pleasurable. Having only moved into the village late-February, the Scarecrow Festival has been a wonderful addition to my lockdown walks around the village." Peter

"It has been extremely tough to choose this year. It has been a challenging but fun diversion in the current strange situation we all find ourselves in. Well done for organising!"

"They were excellent . We had three separate walks and a bit of a drive round and saw nearly all of them. Great way to spend lockdown – thanks"

"First of all well done on a truly amazing job organising the scarecrow festival. We have enjoyed it so much both watching people visit our scarecrow and also visiting them ourselves!" Natalie and family

"Congratulations to everyone for such a fantastic and varied selection of scarecrows!"

"Thank you so much for an amazing trail and array of Scarecrows. What a lovely village!"

"Congratulations on a very successful Scarecrow Festival. It has been really great to see all the families walking round the village viewing the scarecrows." Richard Hirst

"Thank you for all of the effort you have put into this. It was well worthwhile. It was a triumph. The village was so busy and happy yesterday." Val

"Thanks for organising such a fantastic festival. We really enjoyed being involved this time and I think we managed to see all the scarecrows! We loved that 'Where's Wally Now' moved every day!" The Hillmans

"Wow – what a difficult challenge this year, Fran! I've been chatting to my family members and we are really struggling to highlight just three! They are of such a high standard this year
* Some hugely creative
* Some very amusing and witty
* Some superbly crafted reflecting hours of work (e.g. in papier mache).
How on earth to reduce all this down to just three? Hmmm! " Keith Milmer

"Many thanks to you for organising such a great event. The village has been buzzing with walkers seeking out scarecrows. We must have a go next year." John B

"What a fantastic effort made by all entrants this year! Have loved the Scarecrow Festival and have bought my kids to see them since it first began. Looking forward to next year!" Jo Rowles

Francesca Flaxton
17th June 2020

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