I vividly remember the first time we saw the scarecrows invade Woodstock. It was late in the afternoon of a mid-October day when we’d set out to picnic at our favorite hidden spot in downtown Woodstock. We were driving along Main Street when, bang! There they were. Everywhere. The people, the scarecrows, the people dressed up like scarecrows; they seemed to be taking over the road. They had, in fact, invaded our otherwise quiet little town.
It was so unexpected; it took us by surprise. And we couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear.
See, this was back in 2016, our first true fall in our new town. Our twins were born in October 2015, and, quite frankly, that entire month (and let’s be honest, basically that first full year) was a total blur. So now it was our mission to experience this place.
My goodness, were we pleasantly surprised. That afternoon was the start of an amazing tradition, walking along the paths and viewing all the scarecrow designs. My husband and I were like little kids ourselves, strolling along to see this so-called invasion.
We saw everything from Thing 1 and Thing 2 to Curious George’s No Noggin, and we were pretty certain our tiny 1-year-olds were giggling the whole time. Now each year, we return, not only when the displays are fully in place but also that first week of October when everyone is working on their installations. To witness the creativity at work and to see the changes taking shape; this has become a favorite of my kids and of my own.
Then once up and running, it seems we can return every week in October and notice something different.
What we’ve gradually learned through these years is the Scarecrow Invasion was started around 2010 by a small group of dedicated volunteers, with only about 10 scarecrows. Over time, and as the event was transferred to Woodstock’s Economic Development Department, the otherwise fairly simple idea has been transformed into one of the largest scarecrow events in the Southeast.
Not only that, but they’ve managed to make the experience even better with each passing year, this year creating enough space for more than 260 scarecrows. This will enable even more businesses, nonprofits and individuals to participate and inevitably bring all the more smiles to so many visitors’ faces.
For our family, the connections have become even stronger as we get to know this community. Two years ago, my son’s kindergarten teacher, Nikki Mason from Woodstock Elementary School, created a scarecrow dedicated to their class. We soon learned this is a tradition she has maintained for years. “I love to see my kids’ faces when they see the completed scarecrow, knowing they helped to create it,” Mason said. “I have always chosen a children’s book to base our class scarecrow on, and this is my 10th year participating in the Scarecrow Invasion.”
My own professional connection to this heartwarming event has grown as well, as I’ve recently joined the incredible team that puts this on year after year. I am amazed by the thought and effort that goes into pulling off this event each year and feel so fortunate to be a part of it, not just as a spectator but from a behind-the-scenes vantage point.
What I’ve seen is a team that cares not only about creating the most special fall scarecrow experience around, but one that includes as much of their local community as possible. This inclusion of the community is what makes this Scarecrow Invasion extra special.
Both as a city team and as a family, we simply cannot wait to see the scarecrows invade Woodstock this October. I, for one, know that my kiddos will be asking to get out there as often as possible to view and vote, walk and smile, and enjoy this fabulous fall tradition.
The Real Winner Is …
The Woodstock Scarecrow Invasion raises funds that benefit INSeason, the design committee for IN WDSTK that imagines and implements design initiatives for downtown Woodstock. The proceeds will help enhance the beautification of our town, including seasonal landscaping and holiday decor along Main Street.
The public votes for their favorite scarecrows through October. Voting takes place at the Visitors Center, open Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., at 8588 Main St. The votes are $1 each. Businesses with scarecrow displays can accept votes as well. The winners receive bragging rights and an awesome trophy.
Installation of scarecrow displays takes place Oct. 2-6. The scarecrows will be removed by Nov. 4.
For more information on the 2023 Woodstock Scarecrow Invasion, including rules and a map of scarecrow locations, go to visitwoodstockga.com/scarecrow.
– Ingrid Smith recently joined the the city of Woodstock team as marketing manager for Visit Woodstock GA. She has worked in the travel and tourism industry for more than 15 years and lives here in town with her husband, 7-year-old twins and two dogs.