Here comes the judge

Gisburn Brownies and leader Barbara Stirton admire the Guides' entry 'Home to Oz.'

Gisburn Brownies and leader Barbara Stirton admire the Guides' entry 'Home to Oz.'

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Last Saturday I feared I might become the most hated man in Gisburn, pursued by angry villagers with pitchforks and blazing torches like in the Frankenstein films.

The reason: I’d been asked to represent the Clitheroe Advertiser and act as judge for the village’s first-ever Scarecrow Festival (see page 11) based on children’s stories.

I accepted the invitation, then remembered with some trepidation what village events can be like (I listen to “The Archers” occasionally) with internal politics, allegations of favouritism and claims of “fix!”

Gisburn Scarecrow Festival wasn’t like that - or at least not that I know of!

I tootled over to Gisburn, accompanied by Mrs B, to be greeted at the Festival Hall by the organisers with a welcome brew and a choice of lovely home-made cakes. A nice cuppa and a fruit scone with strawberry jam and cream later, I set off on the Scarecrow Trail.

Before long I was chuckling heartily at the wonderful scarecrows lovingly created by village’s children, parents and businesses using straw, old clothes, paint, glue and lots of imagination.

There was Mary Poppins, Humpty Dumpty, Dorothy and friends from “The Wizard of Oz”, Red Riding Hood, The Gruffalo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Harry Potter, the Scary Godmother, Bananas in Pyjamas...too many to mention them all but what a tremendous show it was, and what a great way to get all the village pulling together.

The problem was: How to pick a winner? We decided it would have to be the best realisation of a character, plus whether it told some of the story.

I took pictures of all the exhibits on my mobile phone and we discussed them on the way home, looked at the pictures at home, and went on to t’Internet to look up books we weren’t familiar with.

We discussed them again before we went to Big Brian’s birthday bash at Padiham, then until 2 am after we got home, then again when I woke up on Sunday morning and remembered something I’d missed.

I don’t think judges of olden days could have deliberated so much, not even before they donned the Black Cap.

Eventually, we picked the top three, and I can assure the good folk of Gisburn that apart from the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows – who had labelled theirs – we had absolutely no idea who had made which scarecrow. So, well done, all of you! Just ask someone else next year... please!