INNISFAIL – Scarecrows have been a farmer’s best friend for thousands of years when Egyptians enlisted them to protect their wheat fields.
Three thousand years later scarecrows can still be found throughout Alberta.
And they are honoured.
For several years Innisfail had its own Scarecrow Festival along Main Street and it was well-received. However, lack of volunteers forced its demise.
That is about to change.
The newly created Innisfail Special Events Planning Society (ISEPS) is hosting its first two-day Harvest Festival on Sept. 17 and 18. The tentative venue is Centennial Park. The marquee event will be a Scarecrow Competition.
Jamie Flaman, the vice president of the legally registered non-profit society, said she and a friend were thinking of starting the project a few years ago but COVID came and the idea was temporarily pushed to the side.
After chatting with Debra Stoski, president of the now defunct Innisfail Downtown Association, it was decided to start another group and focus their vision on a Harvest Festival, and then organize other events for all seasons that will benefit the community.
“We wanted to do something new for Innisfail, bring our community back together. We are hoping to reach out to other organizations and other businesses to get involved with us,” said Flaman, whose society has a Facebook page. “It’s not just going to be solely us trying to get everything together. We’re hoping everyone will want to pitch in and do a little bit.
“I think it’s just important for communities like ours to do stuff that involves everybody, families, grandparents, businesses and the other organizations that are around,” she added.
The creation of the ISEPS follows the efforts of other community-minded groups and citizens who joined forces to create recent successful forward-thinking events, such as the Innisfail Lantern Festival, Innisfail Pride and the Festival of Trees. All of them created in the past two years of the pandemic.
“I think it’s great that all these groups are coming forward and trying to get our town to work together,” said Flaman. “It’s nice to see a lot of the groups making something that is welcoming and how Innisfail should be. We should be welcoming and supportive of each other.”
She said a Harvest Festival can be looked at as a way to salute the end of summer and celebrate the beginning of autumn.
“I know the farmers will be working in the field then but we want to bring some attention to our local agriculture and our farmers and everyone that contributes to our community. We have so much around here,” said Flaman, adding it was important for the society to resurrect a celebration for scarecrows.
“I know scarecrow festivals in the past have been quite successful and I thought it was a shame that they were pushed to the wayside,” she said. “My friend and I thought, ‘gee, this would be something great to take on, and bringing our community back together.
"It grew into something bigger. Why does it just have to be scarecrows? It could be something much bigger.”
Flaman said the organization wants to bring in local entertainment and dance groups to showcase their talents, as well as face painting, balloon artists, magicians, bouncy castles, buskers, and beer gardens.
“It’s going to be a big shindig,” said Flaman, adding society members are now busy enlisting sponsor support. They also held a successful Paint Night fundraiser in late March at the Innisfail Golf Club's Divots restaurant. “It is pretty big to start off with this event (Harvest Festival). It’s a good place to start.”