Fun At The Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival 2018

Welcome sign with scarecrows and bunting

The Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival draws in quite a crowd and it only takes one visit to find out why. In this post I’ll be sharing pictures of my favourite scarecrows from Kettlewell’s 2018 event.

Smiling scarecrow with straw hair and hat

Kettlewell villagers organised their first scarecrow festival in 1994 and it has continued as an annual fundraising event ever since, becoming more expansive as each year passes. You don’t have to be particularly perceptive to see how it has helped today’s isolated community make links, attract newcomers and prosper. There’s something here for everyone (unless you are totally creeped out by scarecrows) from the traditional, straw haired gentleman above…

Small, squat figure with coiled hair buns

…to this more modern little cutie. It’s an educational event too – for example, till now, I’d somehow navigated this earth without noticing Makka Pakka and it took the people of Kettlewell to put me straight. I had high hopes for the character from my first encounter.

Attracted by its open demeanour and assuming from its Princess Leia + hairstyle that it was one of those benevolent small aliens that often accompany heroes and heroines in space franchises, I clicked on the first link Google suggested. I wasn’t blown away by Makka Pakka’s song and can’t recommend you follow my example if you’re older than three (if you’re younger, congrats for getting this far – you may be my youngest ever reader).

The 2018 scarecrow festival included many ingenious recreations of heroes, heroines and role models for kids and the young at heart. [I was shocked to note that the WordPress spellcheck autocorrected strongwoman to strongman when I was adding a description to the picture below (there it goes again – just try it!). That’s a big oops, even by the spellcheck’s standards – you really do have to keep a keen eye on it, especially if you write a lot of plant names or, like me, look down at the keyboard while typing.]

2018’s Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival had two themed trails, ‘Movies’ for adults and ‘Magical Stories’ for kids, with much overlap between them. I’m not sure which category Doctor Who was from – I thought that was all true, just hushed up so’s we don’t start to panic. You may, like me, have to look twice to spot the Jodie Whittaker scarecrow – after all, she hasn’t had much screen time yet.

Dog with straw hair, snorkel and colander hat in a rocket launcher

There were derring-do animals too, including Daredevil Dan, awaiting being fired from a cylinder with an expression that suggested he may not have attempted this feat before.

Some of the best dressed scarecrows I’ve seen featured in this year’s show. Where did they get Paul Newman’s poncho, I wonder? I’d be more than happy to wear the strongwoman’s dress (scroll back up for a reminder), if it would fit and if someone invited me to the right kind of party. Even if it isn’t your colour, you’d have to give it kudos for looking so good after a few days outside in the wind and rain.

I loved the hearty way these choristers are singing and the floriferous cottage gardens acting as a backdrop.

The villagers hold scarecrow-making training courses to help newcomers and novices get up to scratch, and it shows. These scarecrows were built to last well beyond the 9 days of the festival, making me wonder where they are all stored during the year – now that would make a picture!

Scarecrow clowns  are cheery enough in the daytime, but must add frission to walking around Kettlewell in the dark while the event is in full swing. Midnight Scarecrows sounds like a classic horror film and being easily spooked out, I’m not going to Google that one!

Minion scarecrow by a traffic sign

I saw several Minions, but none so photogenic as this one, monitoring compliance to the 20 mph speed limit while wondering how much longer the rose hips need to ripen before it can nip down the post to make rose hip syrup (no doubt the kind of activity we’d see in Midnight Scarecrows of Kettlewell).

There were many topical references – political commentary and wry social observations with a humorous twist. The celebration of the 70th anniversary of the NHS shows a patient labelled ‘Nil By Mouth’, but closer inspection shows he’s getting local ale by intravenous drip.

I’ll always be a Magic Roundabout girl at heart, so my award would probably go to Florence, Brian the snail and the other Magic Roundabout scarecrows. The village itself seemed simply lovely, with lots of flower-filled gardens and patios.

Hanging basket of annuals in a patio garden

And the face in the hole photo boards were as high quality as the rest of the event: one of several ways to make sure kids feel fully involved.

Characters with holes in the faces for children to pose behind

If you check out the Kettlewell village website and the Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival website you’ll find this quote, attributed to Professor Moorman (I’m guessing this is F. W. Moorman, Leeds University’s first Professor of English Language, but stand to be corrected):

“But the special glory of Kettlewell is not that of colour, but of line… Kettlewell is the converging point of many contour lines, and to the eye which delights in the flow and ripple of sky line there is a beauty in Kettlewell which is all its own.”

The Professor made a great point, but if he were around today, he might rethink his comment, or at least concede that colour has been lifting its game over the last 25 years by playing a trump card for two weeks each August.

The Scarecrow Festival is all the nicer for being in a scenic, village of traditional stone-built homes with a long heritage. The village church still has the font from the original Norman church, dating back to around 1120, and the tower of the Georgian one that followed it. There’s an Arts and Crafts layer too: I was intrigued to see William Morris’s name in one of the beautiful stained glass windows and later discovered I missed finding a Thompson mouse, and the beaver of one of his protégés, Colin Almack. All in all, well worth a visit!

Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival is scheduled to reopen for 9 days, starting the second week in August 2019. Check the website for details. Visitors will find ample, cheap, day-long parking, well over 100 scarecrows, fresh country-baked food in the tea rooms and village hall, and ‘three splendid hostelries’. Drivers will benefit from studying how to enter and leave the village – we drove over a narrow, never-again road on the way to our next stop, The Forbidden Corner. 

38 thoughts on “Fun At The Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival 2018

    • susurrus says:

      You’re right – I think he may have enough material for a second volume now 🙂

      There is a coach park available if you prebook – but there may be some issues rounding up everyone afterwards in time to leave!

  1. poshbirdy says:

    We accidentally found ourselves surrounded by scarecrows as we passed through one year. At that time it was much smaller and lower-key, there were no obvious signs and no-one to ask. As we exited the village we looked at each other in e did-that-really-happen kind of way!

  2. Peter Klopp says:

    The community of Kettlewell sets a fine example of renewal and revitalization for many towns and villages struggling to stay alive in the world wide trend of urbanization. Great colourful post, Susan!

  3. Heyjude says:

    I think Jo (Restless Jo) has written about this festival before. Must be an amusing way to spend a few hours. I was photographing scarecrows yesterday, though not anywhere near the number you found.

  4. shazza says:

    Ah I love scarecrow festivals. There is one in a local village to me. Kettlewell’s looks fantastic though. The Malham Safari, also in the York Dales is very similar and just as good. Oooh did you like The Forbidden Corner? Have been a couple of times with my niece and nephew and we loved it. 🙂

  5. maristravels says:

    What a fabulous time you must have had that day. I’ve never been to a scarecrow festival but I would love to if they are anything like as good as the ones you’ve photographed. The clown ones though…. maybe a bit Midsummer Murders? My vote would go to spiderman.

  6. Oddment says:

    Thank you, thank you! I needed this more than you could ever imagine! It’s so good to be reminded that there is color and humor and oodles of flowers, and sometimes all together! Although Indiana boasts some very colorful place names, I do envy the names there — like Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales. Surely there is a ballad about it, maybe left by the Normans. A lovely post!

  7. margaret21 says:

    We first went to the Kettlewell Festival years ago. Great fun, but somewhat diluted now that every second village seems to have one. So we haven’t seen this year’s….. until reading your blog!

  8. Vicki says:

    What a wonderful array of creative minds putting this festival together. Thanks for sharing Susan.

    (Autocorrect drives me crazy as no matter how hard and often I proofread and try to stop the autocorrect, I STILL miss errors. Obviously whoever invented and set it up had a certain bias and didn’t add botanical names or bird species etc).

    • susurrus says:

      I wish it would learn that if you’ve corrected something once, it should stay corrected, and if you write it again, it’s OK to leave! It much preferred Kettlewood to Kettlewell, for some reason.

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