Olympics comes to Hayling Island with the Scarecrow Festival

STONE THE CROWS! Mort Mortimer from Hayling Island launches the Hayling Island Scarecrow Festival. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (122502-3)
STONE THE CROWS! Mort Mortimer from Hayling Island launches the Hayling Island Scarecrow Festival. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122502-3)
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WATCH out for Worzel Gummidges pole-vaulting and hurdling across Hayling Island over the next couple of weeks.

The island’s annual Scarecrow Festival is back with an Olympic theme and it’s sure to be bigger and even more fun than ever.

Sporty scarecrows will be popping up in front gardens, pubs, shops and at the seaside as residents vie to win the top prize of £100 – the first time there has ever been a cash prize.

Organiser Marie Telford, from Hayling’s Market Town Initiative, says this will be the last festival for some time to give those organising the event a break and participants the chance to have a few years off and come up with new ideas.

That’s why the competition is expected to be so hot when it opens tomorrow.

Mrs Telford, owner of Hayling Island Bookshop, said: ‘This is our sixth year and it began because we wanted to create an attraction the whole community could be part of and something that would attract visitors.

‘Of course we thought it would be a great economic boost too.

‘Thirdly we wanted something that was going to be great fun for people aged eight to 80 to be involved in.

‘We’ve had some fantastic entries over the years and, on average, about 150 people enter.

‘There are some very, very creative people on the island and there will be some tremendous displays this year with the Olympic theme.

‘We’ve heard there may even be some synchronised swimmers preparing to go out on Saturday morning.’

Judging takes place on Sunday and is always done by people who live off the island.

Emsworth councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray will be joined by Amanda O’Reilly, the director of The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, in Havant.

Mrs Telford added: ‘It’s much fairer to have judges who aren’t from the island.

‘They will look at all the entries – there are around 76 this year.

‘The categories are track and field, water-based, team events and individual events so we’re really excited to see what people come up with.’

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

Trail sheets are available at 25p from shops across the island, including the Hayling Island Bookshop.

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

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.

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

The ballot form is attached to the trail sheet.

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