Every year at the end of September, hundreds of people head to Starved Rock Country and fill the streets of downtown Ottawa for the famous Scarecrow Festival.

This year’s event, marking the 28th annual celebration, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Featuring a number of activities for all ages, the festival is an Ottawa tradition the whole family can enjoy.
The festival’s main attractions, of course, are the scarecrows. Local businesses and organizations construct the scarecrows to match the year’s theme and compete for prizes in two categories. The scarecrows are then put on display throughout downtown and festival goers vote on their favorite. The theme for this year hasn’t been announced yet, but Ottawa’s businesses and organizations have a hefty task ahead to beat the amazing straw Batmans, Supermans and other heroes from last year’s Superheroes theme.
Scattered throughout downtown alongside the scarecrows will be various booths and tables where people can learn about local businesses and nonprofits, watch demonstrations, and buy crafts and baked goods. In fact, the Scarecrow Fest features over 75 booths every year, making it Ottawa’s largest vendor fair. Many of the restaurants and shops in downtown also run special promotions during the festival so people can take a break from the vendor fair and activities to grab a bite and shop at some of Ottawa’s favorite stores. Other popular Scarecrow Fest activities include the chili cook-off, pet costume contest, Zombie Run 5K and a morning farmer’s market.

While the vendor fair, sales and chili cook-off are meant for adults, plenty of activities will also be available for children. Ottawa’s Scarecrow Fest is even recognized as Illinois’s biggest toddler-friendly festival because of its offerings for children of all ages, not just older children. A petting zoo, face-painting stations, bouncy houses, a rock-climbing wall and the bicycle rodeo are some of the attractions younger members of the family can enjoy at the Scarecrow Fest. Kids are also encouraged to take photos with their favorite scarecrow or in one of the scarecrow cutouts so families can remember the fun they had at the event.

Ottawa’s Scarecrow Fest is sure to be a fun-filled day for everyone, from families with kids and couples looking for a date idea, to friends getting together for a day out. Mark Sept. 26 on the calendar and make sure to come out and support the Ottawa community.