Well-dressed scarecrows bring art to life at Luscher Farm

by: VERN UYETAKE  - A line of scarecrows keeps the peace. On a sweltering, summer day, No. 45 stands silently, her back stiff, her eyes unblinking.

In addition to her cheetah-print purse, BCBG jacket and Lisa Simpson-esque necklace, the eye is quickly drawn to her hair.

It’s artfully disheveled — a tangled nest of black locks that seem held in place only by a chintzy headband, flower brooch and sheer willpower.

Today, and until Oct. 31, she’s competing for your vote. But she’s not alone.

There’s No. 35, who has chosen to match a vest embroidered with Christmas ornaments with a black, skin-tight hoodie.

Or No. 74, whose look — denim shirt, denim jacket (with ’70s disco collar) and carrot-colored Little Orphan Annie haircut — seems slightly at odds with itself. by: VERN UYETAKE - This spooky scarecrow keeps a sharp lookout.

Even a few guys have entered the contest, including No. 21, whose long, black braid rests like a sash over his flannel shirt and yellow suspenders.

The outfits might seem mortifyingly unstylish, but the models, who have been wearing these clothes for days, don’t seem to mind. Of course, it helps that they’re not human.

Each “contestant” is a scarecrow — one of 92 that have been built, dressed and planted around the fields of Luscher Farm park by the Oswego Garden Club.

Visitors to the farm can vote for the spookiest or most stylish scarecrow — or search the fields for Sneaky Pete, the covert crow watcher, who’s hidden somewhere within the park’s grounds. There’s even a commemorative sticker for those who find him.

(Hint: It might behoove interested Pete-seekers to look for his clownish accomplice first.)

Nancy Sergeant, who organized the civic project for Oswego Garden Club members, said that whimsy, rather than agricultural necessity, inspired the installation.

“The gals get kind of silly when they make them,” Sergeant said. “Because you’re creating people out of used clothing. It’s addictive, really.”

Many of the farm’s straw-stuffed watchmen are created with a specific theme or characteristic in mind, including No. 71, who’s dressed in motorcycle pants and all Harley-Davidson accoutrements.

by: VERN UYETAKE - A straw-stuffed Cleopatra watches for crows. There’s No. 9, Cleopatra, No. 1, the golfer, along with Nos. 2 and 14, the couple, (paired with No. 37, the chaperone).

In addition to the themed scarecrows, many smaller, tot-sized stickmen have been built specifically for Luscher Farm’s Children’s Garden.

“(Kids will) run up and give them little kisses,” Karen Davis, farm coordinator, said. “We have to put up the small ones fairly frequently, because they get hugged so often.”

While the scarecrows are built during a two-day workshop, Sergeant said she keeps her eye out for modish, all-weather fashion year round.

Everything from hair extensions at the dollar store to clothing bought by the pound at Goodwill are fair game — but certain fabrics, like denim, polyester and other synthetics, stave off sun and rain the best.

“People will leave stuff on my doorstep,” Sergeant said. “It’s odd having a reputation for gathering clothes.”

Sergeant’s other tips include using unspooled cassette tape to make curly, hair-like ringlets or fashioning an inflated pink balloon into fake chewing gum.

by: VERN UYETAKE - Scarecrow No. 30 has a green thumb. Still, despite their aesthetic appeal, the scarecrows themselves remain only marginally effective.

“It’s not too long before you see the crow sitting on the scarecrow,” Davis said. “But I think of them as entertainment. Or an art form in a way.”

So what really bothers the birds? According to Davis, it’s all about eye contact.

“When animals look into someone’s eyes, they think of it as a challenge, and they’re either up to it or not,” Davis said. “Just having a body that isn’t moving isn’t very convincing.”

To really flutter their feathers, Davis suggested gluing eyes to a basketball and hanging it from a nearby tree.

That way, there won’t be a crow — or a fashion faux-pas — in sight.

Luscher Farm is located at 125 Rosemont Road. For more information, visit

by: VERN UYETAKE - Connor Langley, 11, adjusts the hat of a scarecrow next to his familys garden plot.

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