Wolferton is about to be invaded. Over August bank holiday weekend, its 100 inhabitants will be joined by a biennial population of scarecrows – and crowds of visitors from far and wide.
The Wolferton Scarecrow Festival began in 2001 as a community event, with each household displaying a scarecrow in its front garden for the enjoyment of neighbours. There was no competition, no theme, just an invitation to imagine and get building.
The result was children’s characters, satires on political themes and hilarity.
But the scarecrows got more than they bargained for. Outsiders got to hear of the event, came to look and stayed to laugh. They even left money. Thousands of pounds!
A concept was born – a fun festival for visitors and a fundraiser for the village and local charities.
Every other year, after a democratic ballot to ensure the village still wants it (85 per cent yes on a high turnout last January) the festival continues.
Its hallmarks are low prices, a large free organised car park, an optional programme at £2, optional activities and children’s games from as little as 20p.
“We do have some commercial outlets” says festival contact Bob Colson, “for hot food sales and ice cream, but otherwise everything we offer is home-grown”
“Some tourists arrange three-day breaks in the area to spend the whole day with us and others, grown curious while stuck in A149 coast-bound bank holiday traffic, found us because they saw the signs.”
“Since 2001, we have proudly raised and distributed a fund of about £76,000 to local community organisations, good causes and charities.
“We’ll be very happy if we top the £100,000 mark by the end of the 2013 Festival, but we’ll judge our success more by how happy our visitors are with their day out.”
The Scarecrow Festival runs from 10am to 5pm each day and free car parking for up to about 800 cars is provided.
A free bus will leave Lynn bus station on Saturday at 10.50am and on Sunday and Monday a choice of departures from Lynn at 10.15am or 11.10am.
Roads in the village are all closed to traffic.
A frequent free bus service is provided for those who cannot walk the one-mile circuit of the village. This is provided at walking pace, and with a commentary.
Borough mayor Elizabeth Watson will visit at noon on Sunday. In addition to providing financial support for the maintenance of public buildings in the village, the principal charities being supported will be Tapping House Hospice, and the mayor’s chosen charity, the Prince’s Trust.