MANATEE -- Wooden frames laying Saturday morning on picnic tables in the shade of trees at the Manatee Village Historical Park came to life as unique scarecrows by the afternoon.
Edgar Allan Crow, made by Diane and Michael Ingram, was traditional. He donned a plaid shirt and old blue jeans, with straw accents.
"It sounded like fun and it has been," Diane said of the scarecrow workshop, part of a Fall Family Fun Day at the park.
Edgar Allan Crow will sit in the Ingrams' planting bed at their home.
"We've done it together and haven't argued at all," Diane said with a laugh.
"Mostly because I've held it while she's done everything else," Michael added.
The event featuring scarecrows and storytelling was presented by the Manatee Historical Commission; R.B. "Chips" Shore, Manatee County clerk of the circuit court and comptroller; and the Department of Historical Resources.
Felicia, made by 4-year-old Emma Spivey, her grandparents and great-grandfather, was one of few female scarecrows. Emma picked matching pink shoes, gloves and hat, a blonde wig, floral purse and blue accessories for her creation. Felicia's face was complete with googly eyes, a drawn mouth and eyelashes "with diamonds," Emma said.
"It seemed like a good way to share some granddaughter time,"
said Tammy Spivey-Bralley, who instructed the men stuffing panty hose to create feet for the pink heels.
"Emma is concerned she doesn't have a husband," Spivey-Bralley said, solving the problem by having a quick ceremony between Felicia and Edgar Allan Crow beneath a tree.
Emma said her favorite part of the day was making a scarecrow and going in the old buildings with ghosts.
Lauren Gould worked to fit a pumpkin head on her firefighter scarecrow to reflect her fiance's career.
"It seemed fitting," she said.
There were also scarecrow crafts for children.
"It's been fantastic," said Phaedra Rehorn, park supervisor, of the turnout and weather. "This was a trial event for us. We liketo do smaller events because you get to know people.We don't have many young families, so we decided to aim at them."
Rehorn said the workshop was a way to "tempt" kids to learn about history in a hands-on activity.
"Scarecrows have a history like everything else," said Chris Brown, special events coordinator. "They date back at least 3,000 years. Every culture had their own unique scarecrows."
Brown said the event allowed families to work together, be creative and take on the challenge of engineering the figures. Having lost their functionality, Brown said scarecrows are used mainly as decor. But by making their own instead of buying them at stores, families are creating memories, she said.
After scarecrow building, several gathered at the historic settler's home built by Will and Roxie Stephens in 1912, who traveled from Georgia to Florida after the Civil War.
"What's interesting is the house was in three counties and never moved," said Melissa Porter, Stephens' descendant and park employee. The homestead was originally in east Manatee County, but the land was re-zoned for DeSoto County and now sits in Hardee County, she said.
Porter's father, John Stephens, told stories of delicious food, working sugar cane and adventures resulting in "whoopings" at the house he visited in his childhood.
"The family was deeply rooted in the community and looking to forward the community," Stephens reflected.
Lenora Stewart, 90, told stories of meeting her husband who "spent many days and ate many meals" at the Stephens' home.
The group, consisting of many relatives, discussed the journey of the Stephens and Stewart families from Georgia to Florida and the history of the state's cattle industry. The families continue a Christmas tradition of camping at Horse Creek.
"Time has a funny way of turning those hard times into good memories," said Linda Stewart Tucker.