THIS summer, Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary and one of the two themed trails around the village will wind back the clock to the personalities and news stories of the mid 1990s, writes Nicky Fairweather.

Even if you were only a child at the time, the scarecrows planned for the route will be easy to recognise, from the new leader of ‘New Labour’ to the president of the Unites States and icons of the Manchester music scene to momentous national events.

There’s a historical twist to the children’s trail too, as the Scarecrow Committee has amazingly managed to dig out the original clues from the very first themed trail which was nursery rhymes.

Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival was started by a handful of local parents to raise money for Kettlewell Primary School and was originally just a two-day event, not the buzzing nine-day schedule it is today.

There was no official trail around the village back then but residents were encouraged to create scarecrows depicting their profession, which included farmers (of course), a doctor, decorator and an electrician up a ladder, with sparks fizzing from the fuse box, created by Jennifer and Ian Cuthbert, which became a favourite with visitors for many years.

Among those who have been making scarecrows every year since the beginning, Barbara and Clifford Lambert are justly proud to be the first ‘official’ winners of ‘best scarecrow’, with their farmers and sheepdog, but they’ve also won on many occasions since then, with fabulous creations from the Olympic Gold rowers to the Titanic.

Every year visitors also admire the amazing ‘tableaux’ created by Shirley and David Whitham, such as Old Mother Hubbard’s Shoe, Old Macdonald’s Farm and Peter Pan.

In recent years, all the residents of Far Lane have also got together to transform their whole street with all the characters from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz and a colourful circus, complete with an exploding canon, Jumbo the elephant and a performing sea lion.

Not all the scarecrows are always quite what they seem, however, and Geoff Queen is a Scarecrow Festival legend for dressing up as a scarecrow, sitting very still then making passers-by jump out if their skins.

Thanks to such an enthusiastic response from villagers, more and more scarecrows have appeared year after year – in gardens and doorways, peeking over walls and popping up in every corner of the village. Not surprisingly the fame of the festival has spread further afield and now visitors arrive by the coach load to spot the scarecrows during a wander around the village.

One of the local farmers generously hands over a field to use for car parking and getting the hundreds of cars in and out is a military operation, managed by Scarecrow Festival chairman, Paul Hatton with his merry band of volunteers.

The scarecrows are not the only attraction, however and for many a major highlight are the mouth-watering homemade cakes on offer with other refreshments in the Village Hall. The catering may have begun as just tea and biscuits but today it takes an army of bakers and helpers to serve up around 500 cakes throughout the festival.

Kettlewell Village Hall was featured in the Calendar Girls movie and the real Calendar Girls came up to judge the scarecrows in 2018, their own 20th anniversary year. Another celebrity judge was Look North’s ‘Paul the weatherman.

For families, value for money has always been a major reason for the festival’s popularity, and remains so to this day, with car parking for the whole day only £3 and clue sheets for the trails just £1 – making it quite possible to have a fun family day out in the heart of the Dales for under a fiver!

All the profits now provide much needed funds for Kettlewell School, St Marys Church, Kettlewell Village Hall and other community projects, from the toddler group and children’s fund to rounders and cricket teams – funds that have amounted to many tens of thousands of pounds over the last 25 years.

This year the festival is running from August 10 to 18 and is expected to attract around 15,000 visitors from far and wide.

It is one of the biggest and best in the UK and has featured on TV shows like The Dales & Lakes and The Yorkshire Dales as well as Radio 2 and in national newspapers.

It also has over 3,500 followers on Facebook which is a handy place to find out the latest news and see more pictures.

Full information is also available on the website: