Scarecrows offer frighteningly fun experience in downtown Milford

MILFORD — Downtown Milford has a frighteningly decorative look this Halloween season.

Some 85 scarecrows— hanging along Broad Street and South Broad for pedestrians and drivers to admire — are part of the first annual Scarecrow Fest, sponsored by the Downtown Milford Business Association.

“I was doing some research and found that scarecrow festivals have become increasingly popular, especially in New England towns, and you see them up and down the coast of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,” Makayla Silva, DMBA executive director, said.

“I thought Milford should have this, too, because Milford, with the downtown green and the walkable business corridor, lends itself to this sort of event,” she added. “I was looking on Facebook, and there’s like 400 likes and hundreds of comments about how excited people are that Milford is decorated for the fall and the holidays and that it’s become so fascinating.”

Silva said they have been trying to ramp up their events this year because the mission of the DMBA is to promote the economic vitality of downtown.

“Bringing families and driving business and driving activities to downtown Milford. We want people walking the streets. We want to bring people to our businesses,” she said. “So we thought by putting scarecrows and lining Broad Street and River Street with scarecrows on the lamp post, it would encourage visitors to spend an afternoon strolling on the sidewalks, maybe visiting the cafes and restaurants and making an afternoon of it.”

The DMBA provided scarecrow kits to businesses and families who wanted to participate in the event. Silva said they sold out in a week.

“Scarecrow kits for families were $30, and scarecrow kits for businesses were $50, and it’s great for businesses because it provides them with exposure and marketing,” Silva said.

“We provided the wooden T-Frame,” Silva said. “We had a pickup day, and they had two weeks to come up with the creation and return them to us. We hung up 75 scarecrows on Saturday. We had a team of high school volunteers, about 15 kids who spent the morning hanging them.”

Silva said last Christmas, Milford Prevention Council started a trend where they sold cardboard snowman, and they called it Frosty Fest. She said the event was so well received that many organizations started doing similar types of events but with shamrocks, ducks, bicycles or pumpkins.

“So we really wanted to do something different, and I think that is what businesses like most. It was something totally new and different,” she said.

When the DMBA was putting up the scarecrows, a few businesses asked if they had some leftovers, so they did make some additional ones for those businesses.

“It’s a great marketing opportunity because they can brand it with their logos,” Silva said. “There was a florist, Livy Lou Flowers. She did a whole floral theme. So it really allows businesses to be creative which, is great. They are able to put their own twist on the scarecrow while getting some exposure for their businesses. I think that the event has been really well received by the businesses.”

Livy Lou Flowers owner Robb Hackett said they decided to be part of DMBA’s scarecrow fest because of how much joy it would bring to the community.

“Having a business in Milford as well as being a resident, we understood the importance of bringing our community together, especially with the uncertainty of today and the current pandemic,” he said. “We rely on the community to help support our small business, so it is very important for us to give back to the community as well.”

“Our family had an absolute blast creating our scarecrow concept and working together to complete our vision,” Hackett added. “Our hope is that our community embraces the future of this event that will build many memories.”The scarecrows will be up through Halloween weekend, and at that time, they will be taken down.”

Silva said many of the families who participated in the event were excited to do a fun activity together.

“This is a fun activity that they could do together, work on at home and have it on display,” she said. “We had traditional scarecrows filled with hay, but we also had a Rapunzel, a ballerina and a couple of spooky scarecrows as well.”

The main focus for the DMBA is to bring business to the downtown area, however, another important part of its job is to bring the community together and to create a sense of camaraderie to highlight the city.

“It’s really great when we get such positive feedback and gratitude from the community, and any sort of positive vibes we can send out to the community, especially during a challenging time for so many people, has been great, and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Silva said. “We’ve been trying some new ideas that we’ve never done before, for example, we did an Easter Egg extravaganza toward the tail end of COVID. That event also brought the community out, and they were telling us how thankful they were for us doing this because they needed some good and positive news and events to go to.”

She added they want every event they do to be accessible to everybody, and they do things with affordability in mind and fun for the entire family.

“All of our events are typically free and go to,” Silva added, “so it’s important for us to give back to the community and bring everybody together.”