THERE are few West Cork traditions that are as beloved by locals as the Leap Scarecrow Festival, an annual Halloween event now in its sixth year. The festival is currently underway and, according to organisers, it has attracted more visitors than ever.
Even though the pandemic hindered plans for indoor events, the village came alive this month with countless scarecrows and spooky figurines popping up in every nook and cranny.
The work done by volunteers, who created over 200 installations for the village this month, has been hailed by visitors.
“I think it’s safe to say that the Leap Scarecrow Festival is a resounding success,” said west Cork TD Christopher O’Sullivan.
“The community there has bounced back big time to make this the best display of scarecrows yet. It’s well worth a visit.”
The idea was first developed by residents in 2015 and has grown considerably since, with over two weekends of activities lined up every October.
Last week, festival organisers announced that all indoor activities planned for this year would be cancelled due to Covid-19 precautions. However, a treasure hunt, fancy dress parade, and a witches wheelbarrow race saw excited crowds gather outdoors last weekend and next weekend’s trick or treating event and bonfire will go ahead as normal.
And, of course, the winner of the best scarecrow competition will also be on the agenda. This year’s creations range from a stuffed Wally the Walrus to doctor-inspired figurines reminding people to get vaccinated.
“I’d say there’s twice as many scarecrows as people in the village at the moment,“ said Ruthann Sheahan of the festival’s organising team.
“The idea at first was to liven up the place but ultimately it’s become a fundraising event for the village with all proceeds going to an amenity park here.
“We can’t believe the support we’ve been getting this year. It’s been phenomenal.”
Every event at the festival is free, but Ms Sheahan said both locals and visitors alike have been contributing to donation buckets for the park, which is greatly appreciated by organisers.
“People are really enjoying it and our numbers are way up this year. It gives people a safe way to get out and have fun. It’s great to see smiles on people’s faces and we would encourage anyone to join us this weekend.”