If Bear Moyer, 4, had to choose his favorite entry in the latest iteration of downtown Canby’s popular annual scarecrow contest, it would have to be Chef Bad to the Bones.
Clad in chef’s whites, toque and black apron, the apparition grins atop its brick planter outside its sponsoring business, King’s Farm to Table, raising a severed foot and ankle high in one raised, skeletal hand.
Talk about “bone appétit.”
Bear’s sister, Lilly Moyer, 9, is torn between Mother Earth, a lovely, green-faced woman in a dress woven from evergreen boughs and draped in wildflowers created by the Moms Club of Canby; and the Dancing Realtor, a white-veiled, ethereal being of glittering lights entwined with willow branches, courtesy Equity Oregon Real Estate.
These and 36 other creations are part of the fifth annual scarecrow contest by Hot Rod Dreamworks, an energetic and unfailingly creative undertaking each fall by businesses in and outside of downtown Canby.
The scarecrows are on display from light posts along Northwest 1st to Northwest 3rd Avenue and between North Ivy and North Fir, through October 31. Online voting started October 17 and continues till midnight on Halloween.
Bear, Lilly, their four siblings and mom, Amanda Moyer, look forward to the event every year.
“[The scarecrows] are all different, and unique,” Amanda said, adding that “it gets us out and about.”
The event is open to local organizations, businesses, schools and clubs and was the brainchild of Shannon Allee, office manager at Hot Rod Dreamworks.
Allee was inspired five years ago when she was scrolling through social media and saw a scarecrow contest in a community very like Canby. She felt that such a contest in the Garden Spot would be a fun local event — and help bring more foot traffic to the downtown core.
She took her idea to Canby Mayor Brian Hodson and the Canby City Council, who were immediately on board, she said.
“Everybody was so excited,” she said. Thinking she’d only have a handful of entries the first year, she was delighted when there were 19 groups wanting to participate.
In the five years since, the event has grown so much that, well, Allee and downtown Canby are in danger of running out of light posts. The rules are simple and open-ended: Just steer clear of politics and gore. Instead, the scarecrow makers are often inspired by their own business specialties and pop culture.
The event is free to participate in, and submissions are accepted from Canby-based brick-and-mortar small businesses, agencies like the police and fire departments (which have formed a much-watched rivalry on the corner of 2nd and Holly over the years) and organizations like the Boy Scouts.
“I like to keep it local,” Allee said.
She accepts sponsorship from up to four businesses in Canby — $100 to have their names added to signs posted near each scarecrow — allowing her to provide cash prizes for the first, second and third place entries, as well as one Hot Rod pick.
The event is not for profit, Allee added, and funds raised make up the prize money, and pay for signs and miscellaneous items like zip ties, etc.
In past years, voting has been sparse, but Allee has made it easy to pick a favorite. Still, she admits that she’d like to see more people vote.
Emily Bennett, client services representative with Oliver Insurance, helped build the Minions scarecrow, and she has a front row through her office window to watch the foot traffic.
“Lots of kids stop by to take pictures with the minions,” she sad with a smile. She and her colleagues collaborated on the design in honor of the recently released film Minions: The Rise of Gru.
Mallory Gwynn, of Gwynn’s Coffeehouse, has enjoyed the event since its inception. The light pole in front of his shop is always reserved for Canby Fire, while the PD set up their display across the street.
“I watch people taking pictures,” he said adding that he enjoys the event because it encourages people to visit downtown and is a natural lead-in to the Spooktacular Village, Canby’s annual trick-or-treating event on Halloween.
“I absolutely encourage people to vote,” he said. “Take a look at the creativity of the people putting the scarecrows together. They have to think about weather conditions. It adds to the ambiance.”
To vote, use the QR code on display on the signs, visit hotroddreamworks.com/contest.aspx or call Hot Rod Dreamworks at 503-266-6511. Winners will be announced on the Hot Rod Dreamworks website and Facebook page at 5 p.m. November 1.
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