Whatever happens to them at night, the 'scarecrow doctor' is there to fix it in the morning

·3 min read
Whatever happens to them at night, the 'scarecrow doctor' is there to fix it in the morning
The Charlottetown Scarecrow Festival and scarecrow doctor Becca Griffin. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
The Charlottetown Scarecrow Festival and scarecrow doctor Becca Griffin. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

Every morning Becca Griffin does a checkup on the hundreds of scarecrows attached to light poles, trees and benches in downtown Charlottetown.

She's known as the scarecrow doctor. If an arm is broken, she mends it. If a head is on crooked, she straightens it. If its clothes are torn off, she redresses it.

And if one goes missing altogether, she just wonders how its night went.

"I got a text message from a bartender at a local bar saying that they had a scarecrow and they were going to keep it safe until morning so I could come pick it up. So that scarecrow had a really fun night, I'm sure."

Griffin has become quite attached to the scarecrows. No wonder — she and fellow artist Julie Doneff spent weeks making them for the Charlottetown Scarecrow Festival. There are about 1,000, up from about 300 last year, the first year for the festival.

There are definitely some scarecrows that have developed some personalities in my mind or my heart that I visit every single day. — Becca Griffin

"There are definitely some scarecrows that have developed some personalities in my mind or my heart that I visit every single day," Griffin said. "I make sure they have everything they need, I just love them."

But it can be a challenge to take care of them for the duration of the festival, which runs from Oct. 8-24. Griffin said while some people may vandalize the scarecrows, others in the community take it upon themselves to fix them.

"It's really wonderful to see the scarecrows go on little journeys," she said.

"So maybe they've fallen down, or been knocked down in the middle of the night and then I really don't know what happens but some other community member will find them on the street and try to prop them up, they'll put them up against places. Sometimes they'll try to tie them up to posts with their clothes or some bits of twine that they have and that's a really special moment."

Shane Ross/CBC
Shane Ross/CBC

The clothes for the scarecrows are donated by Value Village and Mission Thrift Store. Griffin said she doesn't mind when a scarf or hat goes missing if somebody needs it. Though rare, she said it's the random vandalism that she finds most bothersome.

That's what happened with Mark Sherren's scarecrow. Discover Charlottetown, which puts on the scarecrow festival, encourages homeowners to take part as well. So Sherren, well known in his community for his Halloween displays, happily erected an elaborate scarecrow on his front lawn Oct. 10, and the next morning its head was missing.

Mark Sherren
Mark Sherren

"It's disappointing. You try to contribute, put things out for the public to enjoy but there's always someone who's going to pull a prank. It's disappointing for sure."

Sherren has tried to take it in stride, and even posted a humorous message on his lawn, in the words of the scarecrow itself, to "the dude who stole my head."

Shane Ross/CBC
Shane Ross/CBC

Like Sherren, Griffin is not about to let anything dampen the spirit of the festival.

"That's the main reason for the scarecrow festival, to smile and laugh, you know, sometimes maybe be a little afraid because it's spooky season, but for the most part everybody's just having a good time experiencing these new characters in our lives," she said.

"I love autumn and any opportunity to be a part of a ripple effect of joy during the Halloween season is just right up my alley, it's kind of a dream come true."

Shane Ross/CBC
Shane Ross/CBC
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting