By CASEY FABRIS
Outside Foley’s Complete Automotive, two mechanics work under the hood of a beat-up truck. They wear backwards baseball caps and rags hang from the pockets of their sagging pants, exposing their rear ends.
Thankfully for passersby, these aren’t real mechanics, but scarecrows with pumpkins for posteriors.
It’s part of Rocky Mount’s scarecrow trail, organized by the nonprofit Community Partnership, best known for its “Come Home to a Franklin County Christmas” event. This year, President Donna Wray wanted to do something for fall.
She pitched the idea of having local businesses make their own scarecrows, but it didn’t seem to generate much interest. Wray expected only a handful would participate. But scarecrows started popping up all over town. She estimates there are about 50 displays.
After seeing scarecrows at other businesses, Scott Foley’s customers asked when his auto shop would get in on the fun.
The idea for his display came easily.
“It’s sort of natural in the mechanics business to see people with their butt showing,” Foley said.
His goal was to draw attention. And based on the number of people who have stopped to take pictures and shared photos on social media, Foley believes he was successful.
He thinks the buzz is benefiting his business, too.
Foley has noticed “likes” climbing on the company’s Facebook page.
Though he worried some might find his scarecrows too raunchy, Foley said he’s received nothing but positive feedback.
“If they’re having a bad day they look over and see that, it tears them up because it’s so funny,” Foley said.
In the window of Haywood’s Jewelers a scarecrow kneels, with a ring box in hand, to his beloved, whose hands are drawn to her pumpkin face in shock.
At their feet, gold balloons provide a caption: “I Do.”
India Falke, the sales associate tasked with putting together the display, said most of the scarecrows can easily be connected to their business.
Outside Gina’s Place hair salon, a scarecrow dons pink curlers. In front of Downtown Music, a scarecrow hoists a guitar in the air. The Whole Bean Coffeehouse’s scarecrow holds a steaming to-go cup.
“It only made sense for ours to propose,” Falke said of the jewelry store.
Putting these displays together can be rather involved.
“Not going to lie, it took a lot of duct tape,” she said.
Falke said she hopes her efforts will bring a little “sparkle” to fall for Rocky Mount’s visitors.
In Holley Insurance’s parking lot, two scarecrows are perched atop a truck, crafted from hay bales. The license plate reads: “Insure-U.”
Agent Alice Smith said the insurance company loves crafting, so employees jumped at the chance to participate. The trail has been a hit, she said, especially with young kids.
“That simple little idea just took off,” Smith said.
Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins praised businesses for embracing the challenge posed by the Community Partnership.
“People have been wanting to take it to that next level and sort of one-up each other,” he said. “It’s a very fun community-building competition.”
Hankins believes it’s also encouraging people to visit the town.
While walking around town snapping pictures of the displays, he ran into five people from areas outside Rocky Mount who decided to visit because they’d heard about the scarecrow trail.
Photos of the various displays have been posted to the Community Partnership’s Facebook page, where Wray plans to allow people to vote for their favorites. She also has assembled a panel of judges.
The endeavor did experience one hiccup. A display outside the courthouse depicting a judge sentencing a bootlegger was ordered removed. But just last week Andy Turner, a candidate for commissioner of the revenue, recreated the scene outside his campaign headquarters.
The scarecrows should remain up through Nov. 9, Wray said, if weather permits. She’s grown used to seeing them around town, so it will be strange when they finally come down.
“I’ve seen these things so many times they’ve become friends to me,” Wray said.