We held our first Scarecrow Festival back in 1994 as a fundraising event for Kettlewell Primary School, which has played a vital role in the community for generations, serving the local villages, isolated hamlets and remote farms of Upper Wharfedale. There was no official trail around the village back then but residents were encouraged to create scarecrows depicting their profession, which included farmers (of course), a doctor, decorator and an electrician up a ladder, with sparks fizzing from the fuse box, which became a favourite with visitors for many years.
Thanks to such an enthusiastic response from villagers, more and more scarecrows started to appear every year - in gardens and doorways, peeking over walls, clambering up drainpipes and popping up in every corner of the village. Not surprisingly the fame of the festival started to spread further afield and soon visitors were arriving by the coach load to spot the scarecrows on a wander around this idyllic Yorkshire Dales village.
Over the last 30 years, the festival has grown from strength to strength and we pride ourselves on the high standards of our creations and characters, who are usually easy to identify by young or old. We've had all kinds of themes for our two 'official' trails, with fun clues specially written for children or grown-ups - from pop stars to royalty and literary characters to the Olympics. We've seen a croft in the village transformed into a ski run, canoe course and cricket pitch of scarecrows, as well as a whole street filled with characters from the Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonker's Chocolate Factory and the circus. We've also had a horse and jockey tumbling through our very own Beechers Brook and a giant giraffe, lion and elephant outside our Youth Hostel; not to mention the Loch Ness monster!!
We are delighted that Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival now welcomes thousands of visitors from far and wide. Many have been coming back year after year - often first with their children and now with their grandchildren! We've featured on TV shows like The Dales & Lakes and The Yorkshire Dales as well as Radio 2 and in national newspapers including The Telegraph and Daily Mail. We have over 5,000 followers on Facebook which is a handy place to find out the latest news and see more pictures. And we're on Twitter too!
Whilst the fundraising for Kettlewell School, the village hall and St Marys Church is needed as much, if not more, than ever, it's all the happy faces and positive feedback that still makes all the effort worthwhile.