CHIPLEY — The scarecrow invasion of downtown Chipley has begun, and the Washington County Historical Society and the Garden Club are looking for businesses and groups to contribute to the event.
“It’s a good way to get the word out about your business or club and it’s fun,” said Dorothy Odom, director of the Washington County History Museum.
Odom and Garden Club member Karen Rowland spoke to the Washington County Chamber of Commerce at the chamber’s “Third Thursday” breakfast meeting, held at Northwest Florida Community Hospital on Thursday.
Chipley Garden Club’s third Annual Scarecrow Festival, which runs in conjunction with Washington County Historical Society’s “Fall Into History” Festival, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19.
“Ken Naker (Washington County Tax Collector) was the winner of last year’s scarecrow contest, and I believe he also won the election, so there you go,” Odom said jokingly.
Cash prizes and ribbons will be awarded in four categories — Adult, Youth, People’s Choice and Garden Club Special. A trophy and certificates will be awarded to the winner of the Business/Club category.
The museum is also planning a historic walking tour of Chipley, and is seeking sponsors for the tour’s program. “We haven’t had a walking tour here since 1986,” she said.
“The Scarecrow Festival is a real feather in our cap as a community,” Odom said. “People passing through our community see the scarecrows and they know our community cares.”
There will be a free “Scarecrow Building 101” classes will be offered to the public at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Farmers’ Market.
Club members will be demonstrating scarecrow making from forms to finish. Several completed scarecrows will be on display and construction techniques will be demonstrated. Handouts will be provided and light refreshments will be served.
The museum is a tourist attraction for Chipley, more so than the average resident may realize, Odom said. “Often we will show up to open the museum and there will be people waiting on us who have come from out of town and spent the night here, wanting to see the museum, do some genealogical research, or find a grave.”
Odom said the museum also receives quite a bit of traffic through emails and phone calls.
The Garden Club also presented the Yard of the Month to the City of Chipley for the sundial garden next to the chamber office.
Ron Sharpe, resource development director for United Way of Northwest Florida, also gave the chamber an update on the recovery efforts being made in Washington County.
“As you know may know, the flooding on July 4 damaged 90 homes in Washington County,” Sharpe said. “The United Way has formed a Long Term Recovery Effort committee, along with the United Methodist Community Disaster Relief, West Florida Baptist Association and Catholic Charities to help with repairs to these homes.”
Sharpe said the group, which is being chaired by Vernon Mayor Michelle Cook, has raised $10,000 so far and has opened an account with Capital City Bank.
“We expect the cost of repairs to be about $90,000, so we can use some help,” Sharpe said. People are invited to make donations to the relief fund and to volunteer to help with repairs.
He noted that two weeks ago, the committee and United Way delivered a tractor-trailer load of food to the Vernon Community Center for distribution to the affected families.
“There are still people who can’t get back into their homes without taking a boat,” Sharpe said.