GLOCESTER – The official start of autumn is nearly here, and with it, Glocester’s annual Scarecrow Festival.
The Scarecrow Festival will be under new management this fall. Local Friendship Lodge #7, a non-profit fraternal order of freemasonry that has been in existence since 1800, will be responsible for the organization and handling of the event. Previously, the Chepachet Grange and Glocester Libraries sponsored the annual festival under the direction of founder Mark Rechter.
“This is not a money maker,” Dennis Cipriano, a representative from the lodge explained to the Glocester Town Council at their recent meeting. “We are actively seeking to potentially raise money, but the money is not going to Friendship Lodge. Most of the fundraisers we do produce a substantial amount of money. We just give it back to the town. That’s the idea here as well. This is not a revenue producer for us. This is a way for us to give back to the town.”
Cipriano explained that the Lodge would utilize 30-40 volunteers, send out five press releases and develop a new website for those wishing to participate or find more information about the event, which draws hundreds of curious visitors each year to witness the various scarecrows on display around the village. Cipriano said some changes are in order for the festival, first held in 2017, including setting up the town pavilion and the Friendship Lodge in the center of the village for registration on Saturday, Oct. 14, the day of this year’s event.
The Glocester Senior Center will no longer be used with activity instead moving to the Kent Field Pavilion at 1111 Putnam Pike. Fees will also be higher due to inflation, said Cipriano.
Typically, more than 100 creative and artistic scarecrows are erected along sidewalks and in front of businesses, lining streets heading into Chepachet. The entries, put up by individual families, as well as businesses and organizations, remain in place through Halloween each year.
At the festival itself, the, “scarecrow marketplace,” will feature 35 local vendors selling unique handmade and homemade products. The event typically features live entertainment and activities to accompany the main attraction.
Cipriano said that the Lodge will be actively seeking out sponsors for support, as well, and handling most, if not all, of the logistics involved. He also urged the council not to license any additional one day special licenses to food truck vendors, other than the five food trucks already licensed in town.
“I feel like that should be it,” he said.
Cipriano said the current size of the event was big enough. Bringing in more vendors would bring in more people, resulting in more problems and turning what he referred to as a community event designed to bring the community together into something akin to the Scituate Art Festival. That festival draws thousands over a three day period.
Town Council Vice President Stephen Arnold agreed.
“To me, certainly, making this bigger is not the right direction for the community,” he said. “It is an awesome community event. I do have concerns about this becoming too big.”
Scarecrow entries are in the running for a variety of awards and recognitions. Judges, said Cipriano, should include a variety of people.
“My idea is to get someone from the Economic Development Commission, someone from Friendship Lodge, someone from the community, someone from the Glocester Business Association and someone from the Grange,” he explained. “A mix of people.”
As far as clean up, he said, there will be three stages: one after the initial festival, another one on October 29, and then a final one by Friendship Lodge members on November 4 to ensure that everything is clean and in order. People who put up scarecrows are responsible for taking them down. The displays usually last several weeks.
“What is left over, the town doesn’t really have to worry about,” said Cipriano. “Our members are going down and cleaning up the entire road. We are going to be taking care of it, bagging it and bringing it down to the transfer station.”
Individual vendors in the town’s pavilion, who normally provide a variety of items for sale from candy to balloons, will obtain licenses from town Recreation Director Robert Shields, as they have done in the past.
“This is a cool yearly event,” added Arnold. ‘But we want to keep it at what its initial intention was. It’s a special time of year.”
Registration is now open for those who wish to participate. Learn more and sign up here.