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Current weather

Monday, 09/08/2014

  • Waterloo
  • 67° F

©: AccuWeather

16th Annual Fall Harvest Festival

Surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans, The Arboretum has strong ties to Iowa agriculture.  The Annual Fall Harvest Festival, held the third Sunday each September, not only marks the end of a growing season, but is a joyful celebration of autumn and the summer’s success.

The festival is The Arboretum’s signature event, a family weekend for the Cedar Valley community and Northeast Iowa. Scarecrows entering the Scarecrow Contest can be dropped off beginning on Friday morning.

Sunday, September 21, 2014 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
16th Annual Fall Harvest Festival

1927 East Orange Road, Waterloo, Iowa (parking at Hawkeye Community College with free suttle service or a short walk to the Arboretum grounds)

Bring a car load! Admission is $10.00 per car or show your Arboretum membership card for free admission.
Festival highlights include:

  • 16th Annual Scarecrow Contest
  • Prairie Village
    Featuring demonstrations of blacksmithing, story telling, woodcarving, rope making, spinning and more
  • Live Entertainment
  • Great Variety of Craft and Food Vendors
    We will have a wonderful selection of vendors and look forward to their participation. If you are interested in participating, please email and we will add you to our mailing list.
  • Children's Activities
    Including a petting zoo, the Owl Lady, crafts and games
  • Scarecrow Display
  • Show and Shine Car Show

The vendor deadline is August 15. Please email if you would like to be placed on our mailing list for 2014.

Please contact La Rae at if you are interested in being a Food or Market Vendor.

 Scarecrow Contest

Without question, one of the main attractions of the Fall Harvest Festival is the Scarecrow Contest. All are welcome to compete and there is no entry cost. Scarecrows are made in every shape and size of all different materials.

This year's theme is "Scarecrow Garden Party, Come Join the Fun!"

Interested in being a Scarecrow Sponsor?

$150- Our volunteers will make a scarecrow for you! Your business name will be displayed on the scarecrow and you will receive 2 passes for free admission!

$125-Make your own scarecrow! Must be delivered to the Arboretum Friday September 19th, 9am-7pm, or Saturday September 20th from 10am-noon.

$50-Pumpkin Sponsor: Have your business name put on a pumpkin in our "Pumpkin Patch."

Scarecrow Contest Judging is at Noon on Saturday September 20th!

During the Fall Harvest Festival, the public can bid on their favorite scarecrows! Purchase as many as you want!

A Short History of the SCARECROW CONTEST!

The Fall Harvest Festival has grown into a huge community gathering that is also the staple event of the Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. As we anticipate the 16th year of this event and its signature Scarecrow contest, we thought it would be fun to catch up with Kathy Payne, Chairwoman of the Scarecrow Committee.

Kathy gave us a quick history of the Scarecrow Contest, and what a fun history it is!

Sixteen years ago, Arboretum volunteer Patricia Christensen went to another botanic garden in Wisconsin. At this garden, they had a scarecrow contest and a Fall Harvest Festival of their own. She loved what she experienced so much that she brought the idea to Sue Schuerman, the Arboretum Director at the time.

Together, with the help of many volunteers, they implemented the very first Fall Harvest Festival and Scarecrow Contest at the Arboretum. The first Fall Harvest Festival attracted around 200 people and there were only 20-25 scarecrows, all donated from the public.

By 2003, the Scarecrow Contest had grown so much that a committee was formed in order to organize it! In 2006, the Scarecrow Committee Chair was passed onto Kathy Payne, who is still the Chair Woman.

Last year, the Scarecrow Committee decided they wanted to try something new. They created ghastly, ghoulish scarecrows and started the “Haunted Hosta” area, located in the Arboretum Shade Garden. This new section was a HUGE hit, and many of the items in the Haunted Hosta area sold for $50-$100! In total, there were 165 scarecrows at last year’s Festival, quite a leap from 25 the first year!

Kathy says that her committee begins constructing the Scarecrows in February of each year and they make over 100 scarecrows! She also says that her committee is full of great people who love to put on such a wonderful event for the community.

Did you know that YOU and your family can enter the Scarecrow contest? There are 3 categories: Youth (12 and under), Family, and Adults/Organizations! Just make your scarecrow out of any materials you may have and drop it off at the Arboretum on either Friday, September 19th from 9am-7pm or Saturday, September 20th from 10-noon. Judging is at noon and there are prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in each category; every participant gets a ribbon. Then everyone can come to the Fall Harvest Festival on Sunday, September 21st and bid on a Scarecrow!

See you there!

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