The crowds were beginning to thin as the shadows grew longer in downtown St. Charles on Sunday evening. Along 1st Street, the "Stuff Your Own Scarecrow" area had closed earlier, and now many of the booths were, like fall’s leaves, starting to come down.
Unlike the leaves, however, most will be gone by the time residents begin their Monday morning strolls or jogs along the riverwalk. Just south of Main on 1st Street, and just north of Main on Route 31, Columbus Day likely will dawn with carnival workers intent on packing up and putting away their rides and games and preparing them to move on to the next festival, the next job.
This was the festival’s 27th year and represented a large change. No doubt the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau and city officials will meet in the coming weeks to figure out what worked and what didn’t, as they lay plans to improve the event for next year.
But change comes hard, sometimes. By Sunday night, some folks were starting to express their dissatisfaction, posting their comments on St. Charles Patch’s Facebook page after Patch posted an informal “Which do you prefer?” post at the suggestion of one Facebook fan. In five hours’ time, 31 people had posted 55 comments and 453 people had viewed the conversation.
It seems some people in the thread prefer Lincoln Park, and prefer that all the scarecrows be displayed in one area.
This year, the festival was spread to both sides of town, at least in part due to complaints that Lincoln Park was too small to contain the event. Past fests have brought long lines, sometimes four to six persons deep, around the perimeter of the park.
So this year, the festival grounds were expanded from Lincoln Park to First Street to the riverwalk and up toward Pottawatomie Park. It made for more walking for fest-goers, but it also spread out the crowds.
To this first-time attendee, it was a remarkable event with lots of friendly, smiling faces, both in front of and behind the booths, not to mention the beautiful view along the riverwalk. But I went over the Scarecrow Fest website first so that I had a feel for what to expect and where to go while shooting photos and recording video. Had I been a regular fest visitor, I might not have considered checking the website first. I could use the exercise, and I did a lot of walking.
But some fest fans who have been going longer than this novice rued the change.
Some Explain Reasoning
Many in the discussion simply indicated a location preference: Lincoln Park. Others added an explanation for their choice:
Sarah Storbeck Kendra Lincoln Park! I like them all in one place.
Holly Crossen We didn't realize they were everywhere and left with disappointed kids. Where else were they located?
Lisa Ruud They both have pros for doing it either way; but lack of advertisement, signage, etc.. made it hard to realize that the scarecrows were in 3 different areas. I think in any case the displays were lost among all the tents of massages, newspaper sales, renovators, and crafters.
Robin Laundry I've been going to the Fest since its first year, and I like them all in Lincoln Park. It's too much for the people with little kids in strollers, and those with trouble doing a lot of walking. It was very disappointing this year.
Jenny Lo Thorsen I get that they wanted to ease congestion and that they want to keep the vendors mixed with the displays to increase traffic to them, but I preferred having the scarecrows in one place at Lincoln Park what with having little kids and limited time.
Sue Ladurini Klinkhamer All in Lincoln Park. I also understood the reason they were spread around but this was less of a scarecrow festival and more of merchandisers selling their wares. Newspapers, soap, windows, bathtubs, purses,scarfs and just "stuff". And the people selling it were very aggressive. Put those all in one area, not interspersed with the scarecrows.
Kim Lotarski All in one centralized location with enough room to walk. Lincoln Park is what everyone is used to, but it might be nice to set it up in a larger space where traffic flow is better. Since this event attracts old & young, setting up all over town makes it hard to see every one of the scarecrows (weather, time, parking being issues) in one day.
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