With their patched-up clothing, floppy hats and scratchy limbs, scarecrows are practically the mascots of the autumn season. Despite their name, they're rarely able to frighten anyone (dumb birds excluded), and since all it takes to make one is some old clothes and a bale of hay, they're one of the most family-friendly decorations there is.
So it makes sense that scarecrows are at the center of St. Charles' most renowned festival, taking place in the heart of the city, right on the Fox River. Scarecrows pop up everywhere you look, from the 150 on display (don't forget to vote for your favorites!) to the make-your-own versions that families can take home.
Family-friendly activities throughout the festival include a petting zoo, pony rides, fall photo booth, live entertainment, plus carnival rides and inflatables.
The main event is the Scarecrow Display Contest, which judges scarecrows in six different categories. But what's truly on display is creativity, with past winners including The Munsters, characters from the Madagascar films and scarecrow superheroes.
There is a family category, so if you and your kids (ages 12 and under) have a brain for creativity, it might be time to sign up and test those teamwork skills. For scarecrow newbies, there are tips on the fest's website. Entry may be free, but the experience … well, that's priceless.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.