It’s Olympians as you’ve never seen them before!

One of the entries for the 2012 Hayling Island Scarecrow Festival
One of the entries for the 2012 Hayling Island Scarecrow Festival

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SPORTY scarecrows have cropped up all over Hayling Island for the annual festival.

This year’s has an Olympic theme which has seen scarecrows dressed as athletes appearing in front gardens, shops and at the seaside.

One of the entries for the 2012 Hayling Island Scarecrow Festival

One of the entries for the 2012 Hayling Island Scarecrow Festival

The people behind the crazy figures are vying to impress the judges and bag the top prize of £100.

Meanwhile, other people from around the area are taking to the streets of the island to follow the scarecrow trail.

The festival officially began on Saturday and carries on for another two weeks.

One of the festival’s organisers Colin Telford said: ‘Scarecrows started appearing across the island on Saturday – they are great.

‘We have had a steady stream of people coming along to pick up trail sheets to go around the island and find them all.

‘It’s a great thing for families to do and it lets people from Portsmouth or the other areas come and explore Hayling Island.’

Keeping with this year’s Olympic theme, there are scarecrows representing the sports of fencing, synchronised swimming and caber tossing.

Mr Telford added: ‘A lot of the Olympic sports have been represented and people have really taken it on board.

‘This is the first year we are offering cash prizes as well because we decided to award some of the money we have accumulated through the previous festivals and give it back to the scarecrow-makers.’

Around 3,000 people take part in the scarecrow trail every year.

During the first week of the festival visitors will be asked to vote for their favourite display for the People’s Choice category which will be announced in the second week.

A ballot form is attached to the trail sheet.

People can buy trail sheets for 25p from shops across the island, including the Hayling Island Bookshop in Mengham Road.

Winners will be announced on August 5 at Eastoke Corner where the Mangled Wurzels will play a free concert.

Bronze, silver and gold medals will be awarded at the event.

The judges picked their own favourites over the weekend.

It begins at 2pm to 5pm and if there is heavy rain the event will be moved to the Lifeboat Inn on the seafront.

The Somerset band will perform classic Wurzels songs such as I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester and hope everyone will join in. The awards will be presented during the interval.

For more information about the event or the scarecrows go to 
haylingscarecrows.co.uk