ESSEX — A number of creatively dressed scarecrows have popped up around Essex this October, and it's not just to keep the local seagulls at bay.

The Friends of Essex Council on Aging have kicked off its first-ever Scarecrow Festival fundraiser. Back in September, the group began selling make-your-own scarecrow kits. Each came with a hand-painted burlap sack head and T-frame body.   

"People were told to decorate them however they wish," said Tess Leary, the Council on Aging's outreach director. "It supports the Council on Aging's programs and activities, things that are outside of our budget."

Outside Pike Marine on Main Street, two scarecrows are riding together in a boat. Farther down Main Street, another scarecrow in front of Sea Meadow Gifts and Gardens is draped in "Shop Small" shopping bags.

Priscilla Doucette, who helped organize the event, said she wanted to bring Chester, New Hampshire's annual Scarecrow Festival to Cape Ann.  

"We're trying to get it started in Essex as a thing to do every year," she explained. "It's not just for the money, though. We thought it was a good year to do something fun."

Scarecrow kits, which ran at $25 a pop, are no longer available to purchase. Both Leary and Doucette said they were unaware of how many were sold.  

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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