A scarecrows must: the right stuffing


The scarecrow, 1993:

He's perched on the front lawn wearing polyester slacks, a pipe cleaner smile and Brillo-pad brows. Not exactly Freddy Krueger, is he?

No matter, says Mark Baron, owner of Scarecrow Fun, a Bethesda-based company that teaches how to make these straw forms. Scarecrows today aren't intended to frighten us; scarecrows, he says, are our friends.

Perhaps no creation has been a better friend to Mr. Baron than these stuffed characters. During the past 17 years, he's built a 15-employee business, traveled around the country and even attained the title "the world's only living scarecrow artist."

During the height of the fall season, he often works seven different fairs, parks and festivals (such as one in Owings Mills tomorrow), spreading the message: "Scarecrows are more than just stuffing."

He believes his scarecrow shtick sells because anybody can make one.

"Scarecrows have a 100 percent success rate," says Mr. Baron, 43.

For first-timers, though, the toughest part is attaching the head. "A lot of them fall off," he says. "The secret is tying it snugly to the shirt collar."

The only downside to his profession is that people don't always take him -- or his work -- seriously.

"I went to my high school reunion recently. Everybody came up to me said, 'So, are you still doing that scarecrow thing?' It's enough to drive a guy crazy."

Mark Baron will be teaching the art of scarecrow making at the Owings Mills New Town Fall Festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow. The cost is $5 to make your own. For more information, call (410) 363-4663.

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