Last year’s scarecrow festival focused on the community and the Andover Soccer Association created one of the town’s biggest fans. This year scarecrows are pushing the boundaries and traveling around the world all on Main Street from Oct. 16 to 30.

Oh the places Andover’s scarecrows can go.

As the Andover Coalition for Education’s annual scarecrow festival and fundraiser returns this year, the theme is all about exploration.

Students, organizations and businesses will all be designing their scarecrows answering the question: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

“ACE is excited to be hosting our 9th Annual Scarecrow Festival. This is a wonderful Andover community event that continues to grow every year. We are thrilled to have so many sponsors and community groups participate with us once again to celebrate our schools and bring a festive fall excitement to downtown Andover,” said Lenore Price, ACE president. “ACE is proud to sponsor this annual event and help raise funds to support educational initiatives in all of our public schools. Thanks to our sponsors this year, we have already raised more than $22,000.”

This year’s festival is the largest in Andover’s history with nearly 100 scarecrows set to line Main Street. The donations are continuing to pour in with ACE’s pumpkin patch initiative, said Jennifer Srivastava, director for ACE.

Every year each school decorates its own scarecrow for Main Street, but this year students at the five elementary schools and Shawsheen Preschool will have their own scarecrow out front standing in a pumpkin patch. Each time someone donates $10 to ACE another pumpkin will get added to the patch, Srivastava said.

“We are trying to ‘grow’ our pumpkins — our kids — and grow the support ACE receives because if we all give a little we will have a lot to invest in our schools,” Srivastava said.

The scarecrow festival is one of ACE’s largest fundraisers of the year. The nonprofit uses those funds to give grants to teachers for various projects and fund education programs across the district, including take-home science kits for middle schoolers last year. The nonprofit has given out more than $900,000 to support Andover Public Schools.

Locals will also be able to purchase the scarecrows by bidding on them. People can also contribute to the nonprofit by making donations to “grow the pumpkin patch” at the elementary schools.

Srivastava wants to thank all of the sponsors and volunteers, especially the students at Andover Youth Services, that have helped prepare the event.

The festival kicks off Saturday Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with hot chocolate and treats with ACE outside the Old Town Hall. The Andover Bookstore is teaming up with ACE to distribute the scavenger hunt forms and prizes for those that participate.

Scarecrows will be on Main Street starting Oct. 16 thru 30. For more information visit aceandover.org.

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