Voting and tours start tomorrow Oct.  7

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The start of pandemic in 2020 was a scary time indeed, as the world began to shut down. That didn’t stop the District of Invermere, located on the unceded territories of the Secwépemc and Ktunaxa Peoples and the land chosen as home by the Métis Peoples of B.C., from thinking outside of the box with its first scarecrow contest. Now an annual event, the third Scarecrow Competition is underway.  

“With most of the events being cancelled in 2020, I had to think creatively to bring our community back together,” said Cortney Pitts, leisure services manager, District of Invermere.  “Despite the changes caused by the pandemic, there was still plenty of fun to be had! In fact, seeking out fun activities was more important than ever. I got into a fun theme of creating various challenges for residents, community members and organizations to take part in.”

Pitts had creative ideas for season throughout the pandemic which included a house decorating contest for Canada Day and a bird house decorating contest. But the scarecrow contest was a scream its first year – a total of 56 scarecrows created by local businesses, non-profits, and families swept and scared the streets of Invermere.

“I was looking to organize family-friendly and socially distant events that were safe, fun, and unique. The scarecrow contest was one that could bring everybody together: families, grandparents, businesses, and organizations around the District of Invermere,” said Pitts. “These scarecrow displays really represented the strong sense of community that we have. I found having accessible events like this brought smiles to our community and was a way of celebrating fall.”

Scarecrows have been around for thousands of years. They’ve been linked to a boogey man or a monster in tattered clothing. Their main intent was to keep birds away from ripening crops and children out of farmers’ fields. Scarecrows date back to the early 1500’s and first started in Egypt and Europe.

There are no requirements to make your scarecrow only scary; creativity is welcomed and encouraged. The registration deadline was Sept. 30; the $10 registration fee goes towards prize money for contest winners.  

“Being registered by Sept. 30th is very important as I get a map made up of all the participating scarecrow locations that people can take the scarecrow tour with. To be included in voting and tour map they must…(have been) registered by Sept. 30,” said Pitts. “The first two years the money went to one winner, so the more people that registered, the more the winner received. This year I have added in first, second, and third place with prize money for each of the three categories. Fifty dollars will be awarded to first place while $20 will be awarded to second and third place winners for each category.”

Starting on Oct. 7, voters can tour the town to view and vote for their favourite scarecrows online. There are less to view this year than years past. Participation has gone down by half with each passing year; there were 56 in 2020 and 27 in 2021. The link to vote is available on both the District of Invermere website and the Invermere BC events Facebook page. Winners will be notified by phone or email on Oct. 25 as well as announced on the Facebook page. 

“Every scarecrow and display that have taken place since this event began are very well done and are all so very creative and fun to look at,” said Pitts. “So far 2020 was our best year yet; scarecrows were all over. At the end of the day it’s not about winning, it’s about participating in a fun community wide event.”