Fall inspires ultimate creature feature

Auburn Community Festival arrives Oct. 17
By: Shanley Knox, Journal Correspondent
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Kurt Barton of Meadow Vista started making scarecrows for the money. “I think the idea of building a scarecrow and winning prize money was really the start (for me),” Barton said Thursday. “I’m just a wannabe artist or something like that. I hadn’t done anything like this since grade school coloring contests … Once I got started, I realized I loved (it). I probably shouldn’t be allowed at these things. I get too carried away on these exhibits, and I won the first year so that got me hooked.” Now the holder of five top scarecrow awards from the Auburn Community Festival’s annual scarecrow contest, Barton is one of many competitors beginning secret plans for this year’s festival competition. Currently in its 13th year, the Oct 17 Auburn Community Festival is an annual free event celebrating fall in the foothills. About 3,000 people attend the festival each year to take part in activities and crafts including scarecrow, giant pumpkin and recipe contests, as well as a costume parade, vendor fair and live music. Those involved say they believe the festival’s scarecrow contest offers unique benefits to the Auburn community. As both an artistic and agricultural celebration, it allows some of Auburn’s many personalities to converge. “(It) gives people another avenue or another outlet, because we all know farming is creative,” said Barbara Jicha, a local CPA who directs the scarecrow competition Barton said the scarecrow contest creates an opportunity, each year, to see people he normally wouldn’t cross paths with. As a group that originally started making scarecrows with their families, many of the contest’s faithful participants have watched each other’s children grow up. Barton’s youngest daughter has been attending the festival with him for most of her life. “We have pictures in her album where she was a baby,” Barton, age 57, said. “Now she’s getting ready to drive a car.” The festival allows its artists to freely use their own imaginations, asking only that the exhibits be free standing, and positive themed. Like most others in the scarecrow contest, Barton uses old or recycled materials to create his scarecrows, sometimes turning a teapot into the bottom of a vacuum, or making a giant pencil out of oil containers. Since the contest began, Barton has created everything from a 16-character “Field of dreamers,” to a Mary Poppins figurine appearing to be shooting corn from a vacuum. “I think the longer you look at the scarecrows the more you see some of the intricate details that the creators have thrown in there,” Jicha said. “Often the material is used or recycled things that are found and used creatively.” ---------- Auburn community festival When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 Where: Recreation Park Cost: Free admission For more information: see or call (530) 885-8461 contest prizes Open: People’s Choice Award: $1,000. First: $1,000, Second: $800, Third: $700, Fourth: $500, Fifth: $150. Age 14 and under: First: $200, Second: $150, Third: $100, Fourth: $75, Fifth: $50. Group: First: $100, Second: $100.