Jacksonville's Scarecrow Trail

This year's Scarecrow Trail is slated Oct. 5-17 at the Ruth Bowling Nichols Arboretum in Jacksonville. The popular annual event will have a new twist to it this year: The Oct. 5 kick-off of 2019 Scarecrow Trail will include a one-day plant sale.

CHEROKEE COUNTY – Delightful scenes featuring colorful and creative scarecrows await public perusal during this year's Scarecrow Trail, slated Oct. 5-17 at the Ruth Bowling Nichols Arboretum in Jacksonville.

The popular annual event will have a new twist to it this year: The Oct. 5 kick-off of 2019 Scarecrow Trail will include a one-day plant sale.

“This year, instead of necessarily having performers and entertainment, we're holding a (Cherokee County Master Gardener) plant sale at the same time,” said Cherokee County horticulturist Kim Benton, explaining that while both events are hosted by CCMG, funds collected from the trail – along with donated canned goods – will benefit The H.O.P.E. Center.

The plant sale will feature a variety of fauna and foliage well-suited for growing in East Texas, with money raised to benefit the Master Gardeners.

Together, the sale and the trail will create an atmosphere of fun for those attending, Benton said of the event, held at the arboretum at1015 SE Loop 456.

On opening day, both the Scarecrow Trail and the gardening sale will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the trail additionally will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday,with the final day slated Oct. 17.

The display of scarecrows is a popular event, Benton said, noting that “like many things, there's always an ebb and flow with the number of scarecrows we have, but it remains a really popular thing.

“We still have busloads of kids who come see it, and we love that. During that two-week period that we're open, there's a lot of opportunity for people in the area to come see,” she said.

The trail, launched in 2010, “is still really popular,” and participants' imagination are limitless, she said. “I love how the theater club's scarecrow is always related whatever play is going on downtown here; the scarecrows that the local schools enter, are always so entertaining to me, seeing the creativity and the curiosity that the students have – it really comes out and shines. There's so much great opportunity for local color, and I love that a lot.”

The location loans itself to the event, serving not only as a window to people's creativity, but as a learning experience as well: “At the arboretum, we have historic trees on the trails, so it's fun going around, reading signs along the way,” Benton said. “So, it was really natural to put it there because the trails are already there. And we love leading people through the Demo Garden so they can see what grows naturally well out there, and it's a more positive experience all around. It's perfect (for Scarecrow Trail).”

The deadline to enter is Oct. 3, although Benton admitted “we never know how many scarecrows we'll have until literally the day before, because we can have six entries and then 60 people show up on Friday to set up their scarecrows. The real answer to how many scarecrows? We always answer that the Saturday morning of, because those Thursday and Friday set up days always bring a lot of surprises!”

Applications can be found at the Cherokee County AgriLife Extension office in downtown Rusk, at The HOPE Center in Jacksonville or on Facebook at “Cherokee County Texas Scarecrow Trail.”

They may be emailed to scientistgonemad@yahoo.com, or mailed to Scarecrow Trail, Extension Service, P.O. Box B, Rusk TX 75785. They may also be dropped off at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, located at 536 E. Commerce St.

Cost to participate is $5 for businesses, organizations, churches, families and individuals; school-related groups may set up free of charge.

Rules are as follow:

• No scary/gory entries

• No weapon of any kind

• No loose items that might be blown around

• No signs larger than 22- by 28-inches

• No exhibits larger than 6- by 8-feet

• No direct or hard advertising

• While patriotic themes are welcome, no political statements are allowed.

The CCMGA reserves the rights to remove any display that violates these rules.

Scarecrows will be set up Oct. 3-4, from noon until 6 p.m.; participants will take them down between noon and 6 p.m. Oct. 18 and 8 a.m. until noon Oct. 19. Displays not removed by Oct. 19 automatically become property of the CCMGA.

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