Posh and Becks, Clint Eastwood, Morecambe and Wise and even the Royal family – it’s not your average party guest list. But they descended on two villages in the region – all in scarecrow form.
Scarecrows in numerous guises transformed Belbroughton near Stourbridge and Pattingham in South Staffordshire.
Organisers of the Belbroughton Scarecrow Weekend say 20,000 people enjoyed the festivities this year – more than ever before.
And they say the total amount raised for local groups and charities is in the region of £33,000. Entries to this year’s best of Britain-themed festival included Romeo and Juliet and Saint George and the Dragon, as well as music mogul Simon Cowell and children’s favourite Noddy.
The judges gave the coveted title of best in show to Peter Bath’s 5ft high Spirit of Ecstasy. The 43-year-old recreated the famous figurine from the bonnet of a Rolls-Royce with a bag of hay and chicken wire. It took him just under two days to create.
He said: “I was brainstorming lots of ideas about what made Britain great. I decided on Rolls-Royce because it’s an iconic British brand. I was over the moon to win.”
Ian Pemberton, chairman of the scarecrow weekend committee, said: “We think it’s been a a record year for visitors. Some of the creativity this year was sublime. The scarecrows were weeks or months in the making. It has become such a major event.”
There was also live music, a display of classic cars and animal demonstrations, as well as an aerobatics display from former RAF Tornado pilot Richard Goodwin.
The money raised at the festival will be split between several causes, including Holy Trinity Church and Belbroughton CE Primary School and Nursery.
The first Belbroughton Scarecrow Weekend was held 16 years ago as a fundraiser for the church.
Meanwhile, scarecrows hung off welcome signs into Pattingham, with some dressed as builders, Mr Men and even Ronnie Barker making an appearance at the village’s St Chad’s Church.
One had cheekily managed to claim a seat outside Lych Gate Coffee and appeared to be happily enjoying a drink with a local, while another looked to be scaling ladders into an upstairs window.
And even Prince William, Kate Middleton and baby George made an appearance.
Organisers estimate more than 10,000 people descended on the village over the three-day event, which finished yesterday. But a bit of the shine was taken off the event after one of the star attractions – a giant teddy bear made of straw – was set alight by yobs after the festival
Dave Challinor, aged 71, who is a member of the Pattingham festival steering committee, said: “We wanted an event that made use of the whole community. We chose not to have a competition for the reason that we wanted to unite the village, not divide it.
“It is a quirky event and it’s very British, but then again Pattingham is a very British village and proud to be.” Droves of people wandered the streets of the village following the trail to more than 100 scarecrows.
So big was the trek it was divided into a red route and a smaller, more compact, purple route.
The Pattingham event was first organised by members of St Chad’s Church in 2011 and is set to run again in 2015.
The money raised from the event will go towards the church but also to the redevelopment of the children’s play area.
Robert Colin-Stokes, 46, of Moor Lane, said: “It has been a fantastic carnival atmosphere and we’ve been lucky that the weather has held out. It’s an important event for the whole of Pattingham and for people of all ages to get involved.
“It’s good it’s not every year or it could end up a much of a muchness and it allows the church plenty of time to organise other events. The last time it was done there was about 70 scarecrows and this time there were more than 100.”
Roger Evans, 70, had installed an 18ft hare scarecrow on his farm. He said: “I know a bit about wildlife and I thought I’d create a hare. The last time I did a scarecrow for the festival was when I made a Bertie Bassett one. The festival has been wonderful and it has been so good to see the streets so full of people.”