The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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September 8, 2013

Scarecrow skills: Mt. Olive Lutheran teacher makes scarecrow supremacy an annual tradition

Mt. Olive Lutheran teacher makes scarecrow supremacy an annual tradition

Cara Hanson swears it's true. That scarecrow was 10 feet tall, and it looked just like the one she'd seen singing and dancing on “The Wizard of Oz” the night before.

“I said, 'Mom! Look! It's Dorothy's friend,'” said Hanson, who admits that maybe her 5-year-old self saw the scarecrow at Emma Krumbee's as a little bit bigger than it actually was. “I guess it has been 20 years or so.”

Now a mom herself, Hanson said she never misses an opportunity to bring her daughter to the Scarecrow Festival that has been an Emma Krumbee's tradition for 30 years. The two of them love to go around to each one and find a favorite, and once they even went home and made one of their own.

“They're just so creative. It's crazy,” Hanson said. “I don't know how they come up with some of them.”

The past few years the Hansons almost assuredly have seen the scarecrow contributions made by Mankato classes at Mt. Olive Lutheran School led by teacher Kari Sehloff. Seven years ago Sehloff thought it would be fun to have her class dress up a scarecrow in Mt. Olive gear with a Mt. Olive sign.

“That very first year we did it just kind of for fun … and we got second place,” Sehloff said with a laugh. “So I thought, 'I wonder how we could do if we really tried?'”

First place is how well they could do — for the past six years. The scarecrows are judged in three different categories (traditional, humorous and celebrity) for three different age levels. First place in each category and age level receives $400. (Overally, $6,900 in cash prizes are awarded.)

In the past, Sehloff has had third- or fourth-grade classes submit a scarecrow, and the category has depended upon their subject matter, which has continued to grow in scope over the years. They've done a nativity scene with Mary, Joseph and Jesus, and the animals were painted on surrounding pumpkins.

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