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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 August 2007, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Cavaliers trigger scarecrow fever
Nearly 200 scarecrows have taken up residence in a north Devon town

The population of a Devon town has risen dramatically recently, with sightings of some rather unusual characters reported.

Nearly 200 lookalikes, including the Queen, Bart Simpson and a Knight of the Round Table, have all been spotted in Great Torrington.

The numerous and varied creations are taking part in the town's first scarecrow competition.

After judging takes place this week, winners will be announced on 26 August.

The competition was the brainchild of Dick Matthews from the Torrington Cavaliers - a local fundraising group, best known for its spectacular bonfire displays.

The group spent two years painstakingly building a 100ft-long authentic replica of Nelson's HMS Victory, which thousands of spectators then watched burn to the ground to celebrate the Trafalgar anniversary.

We didn't expect it to take off in such a big way
Dick Matthews

"We've been having a bit of a rest from the big stuff," Mr Matthews told BBC News.

"But I'm always on the lookout for something to involve the community in.

"We didn't expect it to take off in such a big way - the scarecrows are growing like Topsy.

"I'm over the moon and it's been a real talking point in the town."

'Infectious initiative'

Local resident James Gorin said the rate the scarecrows were multiplying was "absolutely hilarious".

"I'm not a Cavalier, but I'm local born and passionate about our town and this infectious initiative by the Cavaliers is delightful.

"Almost every corner you turn round in the town now there are more and more scarecrows appearing."

The Cavaliers will present a cup to the best private scarecrow and one to the best business scarecrow at a charity tea event on Sunday, 26 August.

Money raised by the entrance fees will go into the coffers for the annual Torrington bonfire in November.

Nelson's Victory burnt to ground
27 Aug 05 |  England

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