Scarecrow decorating and pumpkin painting are two of the highlights of Barrington's 17th annual Scarecrow Festival, which aims to help families get into the spirit of the season.

The free event takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at Memorial Park, Hough and Lincoln avenues.

"Over the past 17 years, the Scarecrow Fest has grown into one of our community's most beloved events, especially for families of smaller children," said Patty Dowd Schmitz, Barrington's community, marketing and events manager.

"On a beautiful fall day, you will see hundreds of families and children making scarecrows, painting pumpkins, decorating cookies, and playing fun games. It is wonderful to see our community come out in droves for this event."

The popular event is emceed by Bob the DJ and features free pumpkin, scarecrow, and cookie decorating. Also on tap are pony rides, inflatable games, face painting, and other fun activities throughout the day.

Pumpkins, cookies, and painting supplies are provided for free; visitors are asked to bring old clothes for scarecrow decorating.

"People don't take the scarecrows home," Dowd Schmitz said. "We set up between eight to 10 scarecrows on stakes in the ground, and we bring in old clothes from resale shops. The kids decorate them, take pictures, and then we strip the scarecrows for the next set of kids to enjoy."

Although there are no major changes from last year's festival, Dowd Schmitz said there's likely to be one element of surprise.

"Bob the DJ always has a different and creative costume each year, and the kids can't wait to see what he comes up with," she said.

Food and beverages offered by Kooker's and Gnarly Knots Pretzel Company will be available for purchase.

"People love this festival because it is extremely family-friendly, and it gets everyone into the spirit of fall and Halloween," Dowd Schmitz said.

"Kids love getting messy and decorating the pumpkins and cookies, and parents love chatting with their neighbors. It is truly a small-town, community event where neighbors gather with neighbors for good, old-fashioned fun."

There's no need to worry if it rains, Dowd Schmitz said.

"In case of inclement weather, the event will be moved across the street into Hough Street School."

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