GLOCESTER – The forecasted rain never fell, and the day-long Glocester Scarecrow Festival this past Saturday, Oct. 14 in Chepachet attracted plenty of people.
On the seasonable day, the traffic was thick as young and old, local and from out of town, moved along a crowded Main Street amid autumn painted leaves and the sounds of live music performances. Festival-goers were shopping at small businesses along the street, at vendors at the Kent Pavilion and elsewhere, grabbing a bite at food trucks parked along the route, and or taking in the sight of a myriad of handmade scarecrows and other creations adoring front lawns, fields, and parking lots.
The annual festival was organized this year by the Friendship Lodge #7 of Chepachet, and the group planned to donate all proceeds to Glocester community programs. The first Glocester Scarecrow Festival was held in 2017, and was under the direction of Mark Rechter, the Chepachet Grange #38 and the Glocester Libraries.
For the next two weeks the fun scarecrow creations will stand guard along Main Street to once again shoo away crows and welcome visitors.
Among the several musical acts entertaining festival-goers as they strolled along the street were members of The Bel-Aires, a rock band established in 1961, joined for the festival with members of another local favorite group, The Live Music Band.
The festival is, “a lot of fun. Pretty scary,” said Jerry Leveille of The Bel-Aires rock band. “It’s great to be here.” Asked what’s his favorite display at the festival he quipped, “My wife.”
No battle of the band took place. But among scarecrows and other creations, it seems a friendly battle of sorts of displays for attention of the festival-goers was underway. Barbie doll displays that is.
Andrea Argenti of Hairsay Salon in Smithfield offered a pretty Barbie scarecrow standing beside her iconic pink car. Chuck Entwistle of Foster, at the festival for the first time and helping out at the display, said it is popular one: “Kids, and dogs, are getting in the car for pictures.”
Lauren Niedel-Gresh and her husband David Gresh of Glocester created an entirely different form of the fashion doll beloved by generations of girls.
The display, Barbie, is a skeleton, and kicking a donkey.
“Barbie kicks ass,” according to Niedel-Gresh. That’s a “modern twist,” she said. “Barbie is so popular, and the donkey is ours.”
Niedel-Gresh is volunteer for the festival with the Friendship Lodge.
Regarding donkeys, the animal that is emblematic of the nationwide Democrat party, and down the street from the “kick butt” Barbie is the Glocester Democratic Town Committee’s scarecrow display, which is a chef clad in a Whole Foods market apron, promoting an upcoming committee event.
Traditional looking scarecrows, the type that were seen in cornfields of yesteryear and sometimes still today, were few at the festival.
One attracting attention was created by the Glocester Republican Town Committee labeled “God and Country”; the scarecrow filled with hay, adorned with American flags, was placed by a Christian cross. GRTC member Tom Fontneau was with wife Maureen Fontneau, who observed that people “were smiling, and seemed happy.” She said she likes seeing the whole community come out.
Cheryl Greathouse, chair of the GRTC said many people “stopped to take pictures of the scarecrow.” The festival brings, “many happy people into our town who supported the local shops and vendors,” said Greathouse.
“Many thanks to the organizers for a successful day,” she said.
Wes Amato, a first time visitor attending the festival with Lori Amato and grandchild Aubrey, said he thought the event was, “terrific,” and a “very nice event… a little nicer than I thought.”
Chepachet’s Toni Scopelliti said of the festival, “I love it; I come every year.”
Steve Scopelliti said his favorite display is a werewolf, at 10 feet tall or so poised out on Rte102 nearby to the CVS store. Alas, lamented Scopelliti, he couldn’t vote for the creature because it’s not part of the festival.
With the couple was Mary Gauthier who traveled from Providence.
Linda Laliberte of Glocester was checking out the displays with her family including her grandchild, age three. Laliberte said she was glad it didn’t rain.
“It’s great day and event, and I’m glad we’re here today,” she said.
David Rossi of Glocester attended dressed as, “Huggy Bear,” from Starsky & Hutch. He and an entourage, including youngsters Gian and Carlo Negris, were meandering among the vendor tables at the Kent Pavilion.
“We get a little frightened [of the scarecrow displays], and make jokes,” said Rossi, who added that he loves the festival, and comes out to “see the people and scarecrows.”
TV characters and scarecrows weren’t the only attention-getters at the festival.
Displaying his custom ride on Main Street was Chris Dunning of Glocester. He didn’t make a scarecrow but he rescued a Rolls Royce from the junk heap. The luxury vehicle was “slated to be junked.” Dunning says he “resurrected” the car, which took ten years to restore. He said he added “Frankenstein” parts to make it run.
Dunning will ride off to other festivals as the 2023 Glocester Scarecrow Festival rides off into the sunset of history.