Sunday, 12 July 2015

Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales in 2017

Well, that's it for another two years. The event has raised about £3,700.00 for All Saints' Church, before we take account of matched funding, donations in cash and kind and gift aid contributions. That is a really fantastic total, and it is all down to the sustained effort put in by the whole Loughton community. A special, warm 'thank you' to all the scarecrow builders, without whose efforts the Scarecrow Trail for certain could not take place. I hope you all derived as much pleasure from welcoming visitors to the trail as I did. We must have had about 2,000 visitors over the two weekends, and families were still going round the trail yesterday, after it had officially closed. On that happy and positive note, I'll say 'au revoir' until January 2017, at which point we hope to be back again as an organising committee, taking forward a third Loughton Scarecrow Trail with the theme Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales.

The Visitors' Choice

The voting was very tight yesterday evening, but I'm pleased to announce that Loughton Manor Equestrian Centre's 'War Horse' took this coveted award by just one vote. A red rosette and our congratulations to the team at the Equestrian Centre, and hard luck and commiserations to runners-up Trolly Dolly and ScareMacaw.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Favourite Memories

Loughton's 2015 Scarecrow Trail is drawing to a close. Last day tomorrow! So I thought I'd share with you all some of my favourite memories to date:

  • a train of small schoolchildren, complete with sun hats, excitedly walking round the trail with their teacher;
  • a young Mum explaining the meaning of 'cowardly' to her toddler son;
  • the eight dogs we welcomed into the church on the first Saturday of the trail;
  • the joy on the face of an old gentleman from Becket House retirement home, over the road from our church, who was walked out in his wheelchair by his family to see some of the scarecrows and enjoy tea and cake in the church room;
  • lots of images of proud Dads, leading their whole family round the trail, guide in hand and rucksack containing 'iron rations' in a backpack;
  • Mothers and daughters doing the trail together and experiencing some quality bonding time;
  • a whole family, going round the trail in two cars, daughter in front to show the way, and elderly grandparents in the back of the second car, looking about and taking in the sights;
  • the homeless man who came into church on the first afternoon for a cup of tea, something to eat, and to experience a sense of joining in the community's scarecrow project;
  • the delight on the faces of the Crane Court residents, when they learned that they had won a special prize for their group effort;
  • the many expressions of pleasure from visitors, and their warm appreciation of the efforts everyone has gone to, to make each of the many individual scarecrows as splendid and detailed as possible;
  • the Loughton Giant walking, especially to visit the residents of Becket House in the grounds of their care home;
  • my lovely neighbour Shiela, painstakingly assembling her complex Mary Jane exhibit in front of her house every single morning. How dedicated is that? Every day, the tableau was slightly different!
  • lots of groups of friends walking the trail together and having amicable fun deciding which 'crow' should get their Visitors' Choice vote;
  • those wise parent who bought their children a guide each, so that they would not quarrel about who should get their vote;
  • they young man in the wheelchair who spent time in the church, looking at the scarecrows;
  • the laughter on the faces of visitors, as they looked into the tower ringing room and saw Quasimodo hanging on the bell rope;
  • the generosity of the All Saints Church congregation, who have given generously in both cash and kind, to make the trail happen;
  • evenings spent with my Advisory Group, planning the detail and haring a glass (or two) of wine together;
  • my first trip round the trail, when it gradually dawned on me that all the scarecrows were in place and that the overall display was fantastic;
  • the pleasure that each school took in making their entry (and the Scouts and Guides too).

So many lovely memories! These only scratch the surface. I'm already thinking of a theme for the next trail in two years' time.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Last Chance To See!

Our 2015 Loughton Scarecrow Trail closes at 5.00 p.m. on Saturday 11th July. There are only Friday and Saturday to visit the trail, to view the tremendous display put on by our 63 competitors in this amazing and unrepeatable event. The church will be open on Saturday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. for the sale of Trail Guides, and from 2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. for refreshments. The Loughton Giant will walk at 11.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. on Saturday. Be there!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Late Entry - The Witch

Sadly, one of our competitors had not realised that the scarecrows needed to be on display by the afternoon of Friday 3rd July, in order to participate in the judging. They put her on display once they came home from work, but it was too late for the magic to work for this particular scarecrow. Still, it was possible to award her a 'Well Done' rosette in time for the trail's opening on Saturday 4th July, so she did not miss out altogether on the honours. Thank You, to these competitors, for taking part in our trail for the very first time.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Well Done!

There was a fantastic response to the various competitions this year, and as the judges have reported, all the entries were of an exceptionally high standard. Our judges, Claire Sapsford from MK Arts Centre, Lance Fennell from Westbury Arts Centre, and Jonny Hill from MK Gallery found it exceptionally hard to eliminate any of these scarecrows from their short lists and many of the scarecrows posted below have already been picked as their favourite 'crow' by visitors to the trail. The coveted 'Visitors' Choice' rosette is therefore still something to look forward to. It will be announced at the Scarecrows' supper on Saturday 11th July.

Here is our final cast of characters. The judges 'loved the idea of Spiderman and Batman chilling out'.

They enjoyed 'the variety in this group of Minions, and the good use of space and scale'.

The judges 'liked the eco-friendly and imaginative use of resources' that went into this group of Minions, which are made from recycled bottles.

They could not resist a pun with this Minion, who they said was literally 'uplifting'!

The Shrekcrow's costume design was 'a brilliant interpretation of the character'. He has proved a firm favourite with visitors. You can even sit with him on his bench, to have your photo taken.

Hoc! was thought to be 'well made' and Wally 'very relaxed!'.........

while the Lion King was given a 'roar of approval' for his 'sculptural' qualities and his 'good use of resources'.

Mary Poppins wowed the judges with her 'great costume' and 'good body shape' Altogether, 'a great interpretation' with 'a lot of detail'.

Mr. McGregor was admired for his 'authoritative' stance at the garden gate.

Count Dracula 'looked as if he was about to fly away'. 'Great positioning', said the judges!

The judges particularly 'enjoyed the feminist references' in this scarecrow, which was made by one of our Parish Councillors.

The face of this Oliver Twist was greatly admired as 'lifelike' and there was also 'great attention to detail' in this crow.

Belle of St. Trinian's was described as 'naughty but nice', and 'What is the Matter with Mary Jane?' by AA Milne was commended for its 'left field imaginative interpretation of a poem'.

Elvis, in Rock A Hula Baby, was thought 'bizarrely brilliant!'......

and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Room was agreed to be 'an explosion of detail and colour'.

This entry, taking the theme of Follow the Yellow Brick Road, was described as 'sweet', quite a child-friendly contrast to the altogether more realistic and scary entry by Crane Court, and the stockings in yet another interpretation of the theme, that was 'packed with colour and detail' were described as 'a particularly nice touch'.

The ScareMacaw was 'very like the bird in the film' so 'a convincing interpretation of the theme. It has proved a firm favourite with visitors.

This characterful Artful Dodger was described as 'cheeky fun!'

The All Saints Loughton Bellringers came up with another campanological theme, this time based on the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Just about every visitor to the ringing tower has had a chuckle at this crow.

The judges admired the 'imaginative collaboration' that went into Batman meets Sister Act, and wondered what the tea time topic of conversation might be. What fun!

The judges loved The Birds for its wit and creativity.They said, 'it is nice to see an avant garde scarecrow that pushes the boundaries'; that is, 'scarecrow crows', or even 'crows squared!'.

The Silver Surfer 'fits the theme well', as well as displaying great re-use of an ironing board!

The Sleeping Beauty was 'very beautiful' and the judges also remarked that 'it was lovely to see the garden incorporated into the setting'.

Last, but by no means least, the Mister Men were 'great fun' and 'appealing to everybody' with their distinctive shapes, contrasting expressions and bold, primary colours.

That brings our roll call of scarecrows almost to an end, but one crow missed the judging so we'll feature her tomorrow. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Special Mention

We introduced this award to recognise the efforts of the many scarecrow builders who faced additional challenges to realise their vision, or whose 'crows' were technically outstanding in some specific aspect of the build. Here are this year's 'Special Mentions'. They include two of the five schools, seven community organisations and charities and adults and families.

The two schools were Holmwood First School and Denbigh. Holmwood First School's B.F.G. was 'friendly and funny'. The judges loved the 'traditional approach'. Denbigh's Phantom was described as 'genuinely scary'. The judges felt that they 'would not like to walk past it at night, especially in a graveyard'!

In the Charities sector, Loughton Neighbourhood Action Group's scarecrow was praised as a 'great community-minded Womble'.

Cavendish House Residents' ET looked 'realistic and ready for take-off', and Becket House Residents' Edelweis was praised as being a 'brilliant take on an old theme'.

The MacIntyre Centre entered three 'crows', all of which received a Special Mention'. Sponge Bob Square Pants was described as 'jolly'. The judges noted that a lot of effort had gone into decorating his pavilion. The Minion was ' convincing and well put together' and Frozen was congratulated for 'incorporating lots of different elements and crafts'. Altogether, a 'fantastic effort' from the MacIntyre Centre!

The Loughton and Shenley WI submitted an entry for the first time this year. The judges really liked the fact that their Eliza Dolittle was sitting in the hedge; 'good fun', they said.

Aside from the Tin Man, who won the Adults and Families Class, all of the other five scarecrows in Oz Land, received a 'Special Mention'. The Scarecrow 'captured the spirit of the Wizard of Oz'. Dorothy was praised for her 'well thought-through setting and sound accompaniment'. The Good Witch of the South was thought 'glamorous'. The Cowardly Lion looked as if he had 'come straight off the film set, and The Wicked Witch of the West was deemed to be 'awful but brilliant!' Altogether the judges were really impressed with the 'very high standard' of the entire court and their collaborative effort. The organiser can confirm that she has overheard many appreciative comments from visitors to the trail. 'Exceedingly Well Done' and ' A Big Thank You' go to Crane Court.

The rest of the 'Special Mentions' are all from the Adults and Families Class. The judges loved Church Farm's entry, Animal Farm for its 'very impressive structures'. A large number of scarecrows made up this entry, 'all equally good and following a traditional take on the chosen theme'.

Trolly Dolly was commended for the attention to detail, and especially her 'great pair of shapely pins'!

Chaplin was praised as 'brilliant', and 'a proper Charlie!'.

There were several entries based on Minions this year. This group was singled out as being 'on trend', and 'a good interpretation of the mischievous nature of minions'.

Our final two 'Special Mentions' were Cruella de Ville, 'genuinely terrifying'; and Cool Runnings, 'a blast from the past'.

Tomorrow, I'll begin to post the scarecrows that were awarded a 'Well Done' rosette. Remember, every one is a winner!