NCTC annual scarecrow contest voting ends Sunday online

Julie Davis, Cherry Road Media

Voting is now underway in the sixth annual Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce Annual Scarecrow Contest for downtown businesses.

Votes can be cast for the 22 entries in this year’s contest on the NCTC Facebook page. The entry with the most likes by Oct. 31 will be declared the People’s Choice winner.

A judging panel has selected the overall winner from among the entries, and that business will receive donuts and cider, along with a trophy. Winners are set to be announced Nov. 1.

This year, the News-Press asked the creators of the contest entries to pose with their scarecrows, as well as tell us a little bit about how and why they created the entries they did. Here are their stories:


Evan Cox and Sheri Kochanowicz said the hardest thing was getting a name for their scarecrow, “Freddy Jones,” who bears a resemblance to a certain striped-shirt-wearing Elm Street nightmare producer. “Freddy and Edward are kind of close,” said Cox, who added that Sheri crafted it up. Edward Jones partners with people to cut the fears of investing.


Sheila Hahn and Krystal Homan put “Bankrupt Bertha” on one of the bank’s front windows: “We wanted something funny and different, but also something that promoted one of our products (this year, mobile banking),” said Homan. “We thought about wrapping the witch around the pole, but decided to have her crash into the window instead to keep her out of the parking spaces.”


Mark and Kerry Kattelman created Herbie the farmer because the plant-based protein and raw ingredients they use in their shakes and smoothies primarily come from the Midwest. “High-quality ingredients give us a high-quality product,” said Mark, who added that Kerry’s nieces and nephews are John Deere fans, so the tractor had to be green.


Jessica Hopper explained the bank’s choice of “Jesse James” as their 2021 scarecrow: “Jesse James was a bank robber, and we’re a bank, and we try to do something money-themed every year.” Pictured with Hopper are Cory Schlichtemeier and Myrna Rodriguez.


In “Nightmare on RealAStreet,” a car has just run into a house that Home Real Estate just sold. The agent is sticking his head out the window, looking at the drive as if to ask, “Really?” The Miller-Farrell Insurance agent is already on the scene, ready to settle the claim and get things back to normal. “Reality can be a nightmare, so you need the best insurance and real estate agents in Nebraska City!” Pictured are Cindy McGinnis, Maureen Gygi, Tom Farrell, and Scott Miller.


Mary Brown and Cassidy Haupt said that Great Western Bank selected Rich Uncle Pennybags, also known as Mr. Monopoly because he was money-themed and fun! Great Western Bank can help you pass GO and get in the game.


Darynn Ruiz, Ashley Mullins, and Alex Goering: Alex Goering, Ashley Mullins, Darynn Ruiz, and Artie Bink, your gnome-town banker, wants to assure Arbor Bank customers that they’ll be here gnome matter what!


Dan Swanson, Marcus Lind, Amy Stukenholtz, and Andrew Botwinik, along with Agent B103, invite listeners to “Bee Our Guest” with B103 and Marcus in the Morning. Agent B103 is out scaring up morning show traffic among motorists on Central Avenue.


Jessica Eckhardt, Jessica Umberger, Leah Manzel, and Lindsey Teten said they have always wanted to do a psych/mental-health-themed scarecrow but could never find the right idea. “Jessica Eckhart joined our clinic this year and she had the genius idea of the classic Charlie Brown and Lucy psychiatric help stand,” said Umberger. “We all agreed it was wonderful and got to work right away!”  Umberger added that Eckhardt really took the lead and made the stand from spare wood at her house and found the clothes at a Goodwill. “We all had a part in putting it together with the final touches,” said Umberger. “We have used the same scarecrow faces for 4 years now and we have fun doing this every year!”


Anna Mattingly and Trevor Krenk collaborated on “Vincent van Crough,” which was one of two ideas Mattingly considered (the other was Leonar-Crow da Vinci). Mattingly said the pumpkin head was “a bold choice because getting it to stay on has been a challenge.”


Nebraska City Utilities’ “Pilot Lighter” scarecrow was constructed by Miki Van Renan and Elaine Bower, with decals by Linda Cutler. His body is a recycled trash cash and head is a bucket and funnel as is hat.  The flames of Pilot Lighter are coming from the top of his hat, and he has a belly of fire to resemble a furnace.


Mary Farris and Sara Reuss wanted to celebrate Blindness Awareness Month and White Cane Safety Day with the scarecrow from the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Blind or Visually Handicapped. “In the spirit of these two October holidays, we wanted to showcase the power of braille and the long white cane or dog guides to promote independence for students and all individuals who are blind or visually impaired,” said Reuss. NCECBVI students were involved with the creation of the scarecrows from picking out the pumpkin head, using assistive technology to locate and buy supplies from Walmart, as well as drilling and cutting PVC pipes, clothing the scarecrows, and stuffing them. Reuss said t,he scarecrows also showcase two major national events held at NCECBVI each year: Nebraska Regional Braille Challenge and Nebraska Regional Cane Quest. Braille Challenge is an event for students who utilize braille from 1st to 12th grade. They are split into five categories and are tested on fundamental braille skills such as reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading, as well as graphs and charts. Cane Quest is a challenging, fun orientation and mobility contest for students in grades 3-12. Contestants are divided into three age categories – scouts, explorers, and trailblazers – and are asked to demonstrate fundamental orientation and mobility skills and travel techniques, such as sound localization, dropped objects, street crossings, route execution, and much more while utilizing the long white cane.


Amy and Harvey Allgood, Pam Frana, and Tammy Partsch invite residents to “Plant a Tree with AppleJack and Squat.” “Since it's the 150th year of Arbor Day, we decided to incorporate that celebration along with our Apple ‘Jack’ scarecrow and his son ‘Squat’ planting a tree for Arbor Day,” said Frana.


Keep Nebraska City Beautiful, represented by Executive Director Sally DuBois, came up with the “Litter is a Curse” idea from another scarecrow from a Keep America Beautiful affiliate.


“Sophie Sewing Kindness” is the theme of the Region V Services NC scarecrow. She is encouraging kindness and looking for the end to things such as ignorance and bullying.


Innkeeper Jeanna Stavas said “Tree Climbing Teresa” came about based on the numerous trees at Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast and the desire of many guests and families who partake in what seems to be a childhood activity of climbing trees.  “There have been a few family photos taken in our trees as well, and, now and then, that adventurer who wonders what it would be like to climb on our award-winning 300-year-old oak tree,” she said.


Cathy Martin came up with the idea of “Mr. T.P. Scott” because she believes “there’s nothing scarier than being down to the last roll, especially in the past couple of years!”


An old bathtub that was removed during a job was the partial inspiration for “Rub a Dub, Three in a Tub,” said Kristie McDougald of Bishop Plumbing and Heating. She said she chose to make the bathers female because Randy Bishop has granddaughters, so she had some pink outfits from which to choose.

Because of scheduling conflicts, we were not able to photograph all the creators with their scarecrows.