The annual event St. Charles is perhaps best known for kicks off this weekend with an expanded roster of entertainment for everyone who loves fall.
Handmade scarecrows are the centerpiece attraction for the event, which draws up to 150,000 people. Lincoln Park, just off Main Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets, will host the majority of the displays people come to see. There will also be one scarecrow display at the new municipal parking lot (on the former VFW location) that will feature scarecrows designed to promote local businesses.
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If you goWhat: St. Charles Scarecrow Festival
When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 11-12; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13
Where: Lincoln Park at Main and Fourth streets, and throughout downtown St. Charles; see website for map. To alleviate congestion, visitors are encouraged to use the two remote lots -- Charlestowne Mall, Lot H on the east side and Illinois and Seventh streets on the west side -- and free shuttles.
"This event does have a signature feel," said Jason Pawlowski, marketing manager for the Greater St. Charles Convention and Business Bureau. "It's a great boon for our town, and a great way to show off all the amenities that the greater St. Charles area has to offer."
Organizers are trying to ratchet up the appeal of the fest even more this year by having four areas of live entertainment. The entertainment includes carnival-type performers and can be found on both the east and west sides of the rivers. Lincoln Park will still host the main stage. Additional areas with performances will be located on First Street between Main and Illinois Streets; near city hall, and along the Riverwalk on the east bank.
One detraction from the festival will be the lack of a mechanical scarecrow entry from Ted Eynik. Eynik's creations have become a mainstay at the festival for 20 years. Personal issues prevented him from entering a scarecrow this year. However, Eynik will still be at the fest, demonstrating how he builds his scarecrows and reliving some of his more famous displays.
"Mr. Eynik has been part of the scarecrow tradition for a long time," Pawlowski said. "Even though he's not competing, we're excited to have him at the festival paying homage to individuals and groups that got this festival started back in the 1980s."
The ice cream eating contest and Make Your Own Scarecrow event also return this year along with the arts and crafts show, carnival rides and food vendors.
Parking is available with shuttle service from Charlestowne Mall and the remote lot at Illinois and Seventh Streets.
The festival runs from Friday to Sunday, Oct. 11 to Oct. 13. Additional information can be found at: scarecrowfest.com.