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ALACHUA ‒ It’s that time of year when scarecrows invade Alachua’s downtown and the annual celebration begins. For the past 16 years the Alachua Chamber of Commerce has hosted Scarecrow Row on Main Street as businesses and organizations sponsor light poles decorated in celebration of Halloween and the fall season.

Corporate sponsors either partner with a Main Street business or purchase their own pole to decorate with a decked out scarecrow. The money raised goes toward programs and events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce to help promote business on Main Street and provide services and facilities to the community, including events like the Trick or Treat on Main Street and the annual Christmas Parade.

The Alachua Chamber of Commerce sponsors these events to “raise public awareness of local downtown businesses, bring more tourist and consumers to the area, and create a sense of community and partnership within the local business community as well as providing free events for the community to enjoy.

Scarecrow Row has grown over the years and has become a well-known annual event that runs the entire month of October making sure the Halloween spirit is alive and well. Scarecrows run the gamut in creativity, only limited by the individuals crafting each installation. Early in October it was not uncommon to see groups of people gathered together working on their spooky creations. And throughout the month pole sponsors checked on their scarecrows to make sure they remained in good shape leading up to the annual judging. This year's theme was “Mad Scientist” and each scarecrow incorporated that theme. Some scarecrows were funny, some spooky, some simple, some extensive, but all creative and meant to amuse and entertain.

Each participating business designed and constructed their own display that was judged by a three-judge panel. Prizes, as well as plaques were presented for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Winners were announced at the annual Trick or Treat on Main Street held Saturday night. Boukari Realty took first place along with a $300 prize. Mebane Middle School came in second along with a $200 prize. Third place went to Dr. Douglas Adel along with a $100 prize.

The event has grown in popularity and the Chamber is considering expanding it so there are scarecrows beyond Main Street and possibly opening up entries to the public to increase participation.

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