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October 11, 2013

Hitting the TRAIL: Scarecrows celebrate the season during annual family festivities

JACKSONVILLE — By the time the annual Cherokee County Master Gardeners' Scarecrow Trail is over, the dozens of scarecrows that line the trails at the Ruth Bowling Nichols Arboretum will have become like children to organizer Kathy Moak.

"They're like my family," she said Thursday, amid preparations for the grand opening of the 4th-annual Trail on Saturday.

Moak, a master gardener, started the event simply because "I love scarecrows," she said.

"This event lets the community go wild with their imaginations," Moak continued.

Approximately 1,000 people are expected to visit the Scarecrow Trail, which runs from Oct. 12 through Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The trail features different scenes created by churches, businesses, schools and individuals.

"So many different entities participate," Moak said. Thursday afternoon, scarecrows had already been set up by Keep Jacksonville Beautiful, HOPE, the Jacksonville Public Library, the Forest Service and JISD 3rd and 4th grade Gifted/Talented program students.

During the grand opening event Saturday, visitors can cast a ballot for the coveted "People' Choice" prize, which will be awarded at the end of the day. Before the Trail opens, the Master Gardeners canvass the entries and award each a "prize," such as "Bluest Eyes" or "Biggest Feet."  Saturday's festivities include music by the Jacksonville Jammers, face-painting and games. A food drive benefitting the Manna Pantry operated by H.O.P.E. will be held during the grand opening, as well as on Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Visitors are asked to donate one non-perishable food item or $1. Families come from all over Cherokee County and beyond to visit the Trail, according to Moak, and to enjoy the fun fall activities like pumpkin painting, face painting and music.

While you're strolling the Trail, be on the lookout for "hobbit houses" or "gnome homes," little garden homes tucked away into bushes or nestled in bark and pine straw under the towering trees.

"You have to really look for them," Moak said, mischievously.

For more information, contact Kathy Moak, 903-752-1331, or visit the Cherokee County Texas Scarecrow Trail group page on Facebook.

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