Tetford Scarecrow Festival, Lincolnshire

Scarecrow having tea

As a petulant teenager, Tetford was a place of exile. We moved there in the early 1980s and I had never lived anywhere quite so remote. It wasn't 'on the way' to anywhere, there was barely any traffic, there was one bus a day to a nearby market town, and one shop. I got out as soon as I could.

Occasional family visits in the following years taught me a little tolerance and even appreciation. Its setting in a picturesque valley in the rolling Lincolnshire Wolds, the peace so resounding that a sheep's bray sounded deafening and the miles of country paths to be negotiated behind a straining and excitable dog.

But my last visit was a revelation. Sometime in the last three or four years - I could be wrong here - the Tetford community established a yearly scarecrow festival and secured the participation of nearly every household within its boundaries. Held on the first weekend of May (Saturday, Sunday and the Bank Holiday Monday), the festival sees home made scarecrows installed in gardens, driveways, on fences and pavements and even wooded glades. Since the village is formed by a loop of road this makes a pleasingly gentle circuit of roughly one mile.

Dancing scarecrows

Aficionados of the surreal, the bizarre, of folk or naive art - I hesitate here because the last thing I want to do is patronise - will be enthralled. The varying degrees of skill and artistry only add to the inclusive nature of the event; some scarecrows are accomplished pieces of work, others make up with charm, wit or mystery what they lack in virtuosity. Judging by the steady stream of crowds ambling round the village - and I've never seen so many people here - the Scarecrow Festival is now an established attraction.

Refreshments are provided in the Village Hall, and by various ad hoc vendors selling such delights as shortbread, cakes, lemonade and ice cream en route, and the proceeds go towards fundraising for the 14th century village church and local charitable organisations.

How to get there

Tetford is situated about six miles from Horncastle, which is on the main Lincoln to Skegness road, the A158. Head east out of Horncastle and take the first turning to your left at High Toynton (just before the garage selling caravans and campers) and follow the twisty, windy road to the village. Coming from the north, take the A16 south from Louth and turn right at Haugham for another enjoyably bendy b-road route.


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