Autumn leaves may be disappearing, but there’s still plenty of fall activities before the snow takes over.
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen has brought back its outdoor annual Scarecrows in the Garden exhibit, with almost 50 unique creations made by dozens of Minnesotans.
The lineup starts at the Visitor’s Center and ends on what Arboretum events manager Wendy Composto calls “Scarecrow Hill,” which is filled with dozens of scarecrows ranging from three feet to 12 feet tall.
Some are reused from previous years, some are made by different locations of the Minnesota garden store Bachman's, and a large portion is created by staff members and volunteers. But because of COVID-19 restrictions, volunteers weren’t allowed until very recently — so the Arboretum turned to their members for help.
“I thought it would be really fun to call on some of our members to make some scarecrows. We really lucked out, our members are super creative,” said Composto.
Of course, there has to be some friendly competition. The four Bachman's scarecrows are competing against each other, while a separate contest is happening between the 13 creations made by the Arboretum visitors and members. Visitors can vote by scanning a QR code on their phone, and the winners will receive trophies.
As of Oct. 14, it was a close race between "Queen Polly Nator," a five-foot-tall bee made out of straw and pine cones, with a crown of flowers, and Anthony Crow-ci, a strikingly-realistic parody of Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
In the Bachman’s contest, venus flytrap-esque "Grow Something Wild" is neck and neck with ‘Covid the Kid,’ who has a virus-shaped head and a cowboy hat with a “Six Feet Please” button.
This reporter's favorite? A 10-foot-tall unnamed creation with a realistic mannequin head and a multitude of artificial flowers. (Very reminiscent of a costume in the 2019 horror movie "Midsommar.")
The fall decor doesn’t stop at Scarecrow Hill — there are 290 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds scattered throughout the Terrace and Visitor’s Center. Take a picture in front of the pumpkin tree, see the new “Responses During COVID-19” art exhibit in the Reedy Gallery and walk through the grounds to see the last of the fall colors.
Don’t forget to drop by the Apple House a few miles down the road for Arb-grown apples, pies, pumpkins and apple cider mini donuts from North Star Donut. (Honeycrisp is an obvious fan favorite, but the very small, extra-sweet Frostbite apples are my personal recommendation.)
Even if you’ve attended in previous years, Scarecrows in the Garden is worth a second visit.