IT WAS a case of now you see him, now you don’t for a standout figure in Deepwater at the weekend.
The tablelands village, 40km north of Glen Innes, has lost an icon of its latest claim to fame – a scarecrow standing sentry on the highway.
Constable Scarecrow was there one minute but, less than 24 hours later, had gone missing – leaving only his boots in his wake.
The locals swear it’s not a publicity stunt, but a real case of kidnapping.
The scarecrow copper was standing in the grounds of the Deepwater Inn last Friday but, just as he had become the subject of a complaint and a bureaucratic row and locals were preparing to move him on anyway, someone swooped in and stole him.
Scarecrows have become a festival favourite in Deepwater over the past four years – they’re the backbone of the Deepwater Scarecrow and Wool Festival, which is held on the first weekend of November.
But Constable Scarecrow’s appearance this year sparked a road row only hours after he took up his post – and, according to festival spokeswoman Julie Watt, a scrooge reaction from the blokes who look after our roads.
Mrs Watt said a Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) officer told her they’d received a complaint the scarecrow was slowing traffic and frightening people – so much so it could cause an accident.
“The scarecrow was standing next to a sign stating ‘SLOW DOWN or you will be in DEEP WATER!’ a few hundred metres past the 50km/h zone sign near the bend on the north entry of the village,” Mrs Watt said.
“Unfortunately, someone without a sense of humour made a crummy complaint to the RMS worker, who told the committee members to take it down.
“It is sad that vehicles would be made to slow down in a 50km/h zone – obviously the scarecrow was doing his job, if they had to slow down.
“There is a high incidence of speeding traffic through Deepwater every day, with some going twice that speed.”
But before the committee could act, someone else did.
Mrs Watt said the body beat it, and a couple of witnesses reckon a black 4WD with dark tinted windows could be the culprit; it was seen near the scene of the crime about 9.30am on Saturday.
“I have reported the theft to the police and found them helpful – thankfully they didn’t think it was a crummy joke,” she said yesterday.
They’ve alerted the media and posted their predicament on their website, hoping the scarecrow can be tracked down and returned in time for the festival. He’s one of the first of several that have sprung up so far for this year’s event.
There were 57 entries in last year’s event, which was won by Sharyn Rhodes and Rick McCowen with their Rambo’s Revenge creation.
While the scarecrows might be the standout stars of the show, the festival also shines a light on the district’s wool heritage.
There are also spinning demonstrations and sheep and wool displays, open garden tours, market stalls, a garage sale trail and a show-and-shine swap meet.