Fifty Scarecrows Are Among Autumn Delights at Retzer Nature Center
October 27, 2021 | Topics: Places
By Eddee Daniel, with input from Janet Barthel of Retzer Nature Center.
Autumn is ablaze at Retzer Nature Center! Which was more than enough reason for me to visit right now. But I also wanted to check out some special features. One of them was the approximately fifty scarecrows that currently haunt a specially designated Scarecrow Lane.
The scarecrows are not particularly scary—unless you’re a crow, I suppose—but they sure are a delight! Many are also very imaginative. This annual event has been offered at Retzer for many years, usually starting around the Apple Harvest Festival in September. I walked the entire “Scarecrow Lane” loop, which has the scarecrows spaced out to create a safely socially-distanced, all-outdoors, free activity for families. And although I went on a school day during school hours, I saw plenty of families enjoying themselves. Most of the children were carrying around the Scarecrow Scavenger Hunt, which is available on the Retzer Nature Center website.
The scarecrows have been created and contributed by a variety of girl scout troops, other groups, businesses, and organizations. If you still want to catch the action, however, you better hustle on over. The scarecrows will come down at the end of October—Just in time for All Souls Day!
But even if you miss the scarecrows, there’s always plenty to discover and enjoy at Retzer. In fact, another feature I went there to check out was the newly opened “Discovery Trail.” If you’ve ever been to Retzer you’ve probably seen the pine plantation grove, which is located right next to the Center itself. Formerly called the Adventure Trail, in addition to the name change there has been a complete rebuild and expansion of the paved trail. The trail now extends to meet up with the (also new) boardwalk, which has increased accessibility.
The Discovery Trial Project is not yet finished. It is in year two of a three-year rejuvenation. “The goals for this project,” according to Janet Barthel, RNC Supervisor, “were to invent a new experience that could be utilized by the educational team at RNC and provide a safe and accessible nature play opportunity as well.” Several Exploration Stations have been installed using repurposed dead ash trees for kids to climb on, as well as for the entryway arch.
Barthel tells me that an Insect Exploration Station is slated to be installed next spring—a good reason to return then! This station will feature five insects found locally. It is planned to be “an interactive and educational opportunity that recreates each insect’s flight pattern and shares a ton of information, which will help visitors to Connect-Explore-Engage…our theme for the whole area.”
More Exploration Stations also are in the works focusing on topics like trees, birds, decomposers, and glacial features. You can learn more about the Discovery Trail Project on the RNC website.
Neither the Discovery Trail nor Scarecrow Lane took very long so I spent most of my visit enjoying the rest of the grounds—always a pleasure but especially right not in all its autumn glory! If you haven’t been to Retzer, it is the only Waukesha County Park that doesn’t charge an entry fee. I invite you to go for a walk with me……
Janet Barthel is Supervisor of Retzer Nature Center. Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use, which owns and manages RNC, is a project partner of A Wealth of Nature. Eddee Daniel is Project Director.