The Scarecrow Festival: A St. Charles Tradition


Ashley Seymour

Festive decorations line the streets of St. Charles

Ashley Seymour

The annual Scarecrow Festival is returning for its 36th year this weekend in downtown St. Charles. This year, Scarecrow Festival will be held in various spots near the Fox River in St. Charles from Friday, Oct. 8th through Sunday, Oct. 10th.  Due to the pandemic, the event was not in its “normal” set-up last year, though this year it is returning to how it has been in previous years. Those native to the St. Charles community, including students and staff at North, are ready to celebrate the fall season this weekend.

“It’s a community festival. It basically revolves around individual scarecrows (the handmade scarecrows) that are displayed around town and the Scarecrow Contest. It’s just kind of grown from there,” said Amy Curione, the Events Manager for the St. Charles Business Alliance in charge of organizing Scarecrow Festival each year.

Up to 90 scarecrow displays will be set up in front of shops and businesses throughout the town.

Owners start setting up their booths for the festival (Ashley Seymour)

“You had ones that were made by schools and ones that were made by families, and then some that were businesses and some that were [made by] professionals. It was just really cool to see all of the different scarecrows,” said Janelle VanDeSampel, social studies teacher.

The family activities, balloon artists, face painters and carnival will be located on the west side of the Fox River (near Hotel Baker and the square). Pottawatomie Park holds the Scarecrow Festival craft fair where people can stroll down the river path from booth to booth, each set up by the local owners. The booth owners set up their own products for sale from fall decor, homemade food and even their own crafts.

“We’re very excited for all the involvement…  there’s also going to be lots of things going on in our businesses. And of course, the arts and craft show in Pottawattamie [has been] a part of the festival for many years as well,” said Curione.

The festival has been a staple tradition in St. Charles during the fall season. Once a year in October when the weekend event rolls around, the community can rely on it being a memorable experience. From the artistic appeal, the unity of the community, and the participation from so many local restaurants and businesses, this event has given St. Charles a way to come together and celebrate the seasonal transition.

“I have lived in St. Charles for almost 20 years… so we’ve gone many years. It’s one of the things we like to do in the fall,” said VanDeSampel.

Businesses join in by decorating their storefronts (Ashley Seymour)

Last year, due to COVID-19, Scarecrow Fest looked a bit different with less of a crowd; however, it still did go on. The St. Charles Alliance Committee decided it would be best to hold the weekend event as a smaller, more local, version of the normal festival. The festival activities were adapted to fit COVID-19 guidelines.

“[It was] an ultra-local event; we had about 50 scarecrows around town, and we had a few different events…we also did Scarecrow-In-A-Box, which was a variation of the popular ‘Make Your Own Scarecrow’ tradition…that was the COVID-friendly way of having that activity where kids and families could buy a kit to make their own scarecrow at home,” said Curione.

However, this year’s festival is focusing on bringing the community back together with all the normal events seen in previous years set up for people to come and enjoy. Community businesses and organizations also get involved in the Scarecrow Festival.

“The last time I went was two or three years ago, and it was [for] a dance performance I did there… we would perform and after we would just hang out and just walk around,” said Addison McCormick, junior.

Event details can be found online at

This event is full of so many things to do from the arts and crafts, seeing the scarecrows displayed around town or going to the carnival on the west side of the river. St. Charles residents can attest to there being something for everyone at Scarecrow Fest.

“We’ve done a little bit of everything. Definitely always looking at all of the scarecrows, eating the food…we always used to go the carnival [as well], and making scarecrows was another big thing,” said VanDeSampel.

The fall season is being celebrated all throughout the downtown, though, so if visitors choose not to participate in the activities of the festival, they are still able to get into the “fall spirit” by just being in the heart of downtown this weekend.

“There’s so much you can do there…contests, food, and the little shops…it [was] so nice to have everything close together…it was just a very fun experience,” said McCormick.

More information can be found on the Scarecrow Festival website and map.