Flint, MI—Don’t be alarmed if you see hay-stuffed figures, clad in sparkly hats and local businesses’ t-shirts, tending the doors of businesses down University Avenue—unless you’re a crow, that is.
Local residents, the Flint Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Kettering students together are ringing in the fall with the 3rd annual Scarecrow Convention, steadily expanding the tradition that began in the Glendale Hills neighborhood to more parts of Flint, Mich.
The Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association, headed by Steve Lowry at the time, started the Scarecrow Convention in 2020 as a way to foster a sense of community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“They’re a riot; they really are,” said Sue Goering, vice president of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association’s board. “They’re hilarious.”
The tradition has since grown. This year, the association and its partners are bringing roughly 80 hand-made scarecrows to homes and businesses in Glendale Hills, the University Avenue corridor, downtown Flint and Kettering’s campus.
The idea for the project originally came from Lowry back in 2020. Keep Genesee County Beautiful had some grant funding for community projects amid the pandemic, and the funding had to be used up by the end of Sept. 2020.
“When [Lowry’s] father died, he had all his dad’s clothes,” said Sharon Bradley, president of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association’s board. “I don’t know how he put all this together, but he started looking up how to make scarecrows.”
The convention took off in Glendale Hills after its first year. The association put together about 65 scarecrows last year solely for Glendale Hills, Bradley said. Although Lowry, once president of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association’s board, has moved out of the neighborhood in the years since the Scarecrow Convention began, he came back to help out again this year.
The DDA joined on the project last year, bringing a few scarecrows to downtown. Expect even more this year, said the DDA’s event coordinator Aiesha Lewis. She hopes to spread the convention to more neighborhoods around downtown, too, she said.
“It’s really just a way to kind of bring a sense of community to Flint,” Lewis said.
In addition to the DDA, Kettering joined the project for the first time this year, bringing out about 50 students to help build scarecrows as part of the university’s orientation for new students. Hundreds more students helped out with other community service projects, too, as a way to get them involved and acclimated to Flint, said Jack Stock, the director of external relations at Kettering.
“They’re going to be in positions of leadership in the future,” Stock said. “We have to help develop in them an ethic that you have to give back to your community. Civic responsibility is critical.”