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October 10, 2013

Scarecrow contest decorates East Jordan

EAST JORDAN — Paper or straw?

It’s not a bagging preference but one of two materials that stuff scarecrows along Main Street in downtown East Jordan.

The whimsical figures that pose outside participating storefronts as part of a Scarecrows Across The Breezeway contest, are aimed at creating fall cheer for shoppers and passersby along the two-block business district.

The annual contest offers small cash prizes for winning residents and an advertising package for their business counterparts. It began about 15 years ago, official Shannon Fender said.

“It was just a way to get some fall harvest decorations going in town,” said Fender, special events coordinator for the East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce. “We don’t have a theme.”

This year’s contest drew 14 entries in two divisions: business and nonprofit residential, she said. The last of the entries were installed Wednesday, in time for Saturday’s 5th Annual Breezeway Fall Color Cruise. The cruise brings travelers along County Road 48 — referred to as the “Breezeway” — between Atwood and Boyne Falls for fall colors, farm produce, shopping and dining.

Scarecrow “Bob” greets visitors at EJ Visitor Center, a museum and visitors center for the EJ foundry, formerly known as East Jordan Ironworks. The straw-stuffed “production worker” sports an orange hard hat, jeans and a company jacket. Against its legs rests a “Treasure Lake Charlevoix” manhole cover, one of the foundry’s products.

“Bob had to go in storage as we remodeled but we brought him back out,” said Erin Nickel, administrative assistant for the visitor center, which reopened in June. “Bob is one of our favorite employees. He’s very obedient.”

Four of the scarecrows were created by downtown resident David Schweer, including the only entry in the residential division.

“The (business) owners don’t always have enough time to throw something together,” said Schweer, whose own entry is The Fishwitch, a witch scarecrow “bucket fishing” with her witch-broom “pole.” “So they come up with the concept and I use what I’ve got to try and make something close. My sewing skills are getting pretty good.”

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