Chandra Harris-McCray: Two-time scarecrow winner ponders this years creation
Vic Zanoni should have been born on Halloween, not Christmas.
Santa Claus never had to worry about Zanoni because he has always been consumed by all things Halloween — pumpkins, trick-or-treating, superhero costumes of the plastic and homemade kind.
For the past two years, he has called on his inner ghoul and claimed the first-place prize during the "Scarecrows in the Park" contest at New Harvest Park, 4775 New Harvest Lane.
What is quickly becoming a favorite fall tradition of Knox County Parks and Recreation is already a favorite outlet for Zanoni, who has been trying to figure out what type of scarecrow he will craft for this year's competition. It is open to individuals, organizations schools and families, and an application form is available at Knox County Parks and Recreation's website, www.knoxcounty.org/parks. They are due by Oct. 17. The entry fee is $10, and each participant will receive a coupon for a bale of straw from The Home Depot.
The Scarecrow Trail will be placed along the greenway loop at the park, and will open during New Harvest Park Farmers' Market's Third Thursday event 3-6 p.m. Oct. 20. The quarter-mile walking trail will be open daily from sunrise to sunset, and the public can vote for their favorite scarecrow through Monday, Oct. 24.
The winners in the adult and student categories will be announced at the Farmers' Market Oct. 27. The $100 first prizes will be presented by Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union. Second prize in each category will receive a free shelter rental at any Knox County park.
Zanoni's winning scarecrows have been anything but a straw figure in a flannel shirt. The first year — scarecrow Loomis — was crafted "from things around the house," said Zanoni, who lives in South Knoxville with his wife, Ashley, and their son 6-year-old son, Gabriel. "I was out of a job at the time and I was at the library looking for job postings when I saw the flier for "Scarecrows in the Park," he said.
Using dryer lint to make the skin of Loomis, the skeleton-like figure was put together in a matter of days. "I wanted to see what I could put together with as little money as possible," he said.
In 2010, he challenged himself again by creating Ivan. "One night I went to bed with a headache and the next morning I woke up with the idea for the scarecrow," he said.
Using PVC pipe and "plain ol' water and flour" to create a paper mache pumpkin head, Zanoni said the scarecrows "take on a life of their own once I start making them."
And he hopes this year will be no different. Trying to top last year, Zanoni said he is all about going bigger and better.
"If I win or lose this year, I will still keep doing it," said Zanoni, who works long hours as a medical professional at a clinic in Sevier County.
For more information about "Scarecrows in the Park," call 865-215-6600.