Record crowds creep through Haunted Canyon and Scarecrow Walk in St. George

ST. GEORGE — It seems no one is too scared to check out the Scarecrow Walk and Haunted Canyon at Red Hills Desert Garden in St. George. 

Display at the Scarecrow Walk and Haunted Canyon at Red Hills Desert Garden, St. George, Utah, Oct. 13, 2022 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

Organizers say a record number of visitors have taken in the autumn and Halloween feature that has grown in seven years from 12 scarecrows to 46 scarecrows decorated by individuals and area businesses, said Ryan White, manager of the Red Hills Desert Garden. 

White said the display had over 20,000 visitors last year and it is on track to exceed that number this year. Participants who want to produce an entry need to apply in September on a first-come, first-serve basis. Attendees also can vote for their favorite scarecrows.

“So far, we’ve mostly been able to accommodate everybody, but 46 is a lot, so we’ll probably cap it at 50 scarecrows next year,” White said.

The public is welcome from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and there is no admission fee. The peak visitation is from 5:30-8:30 p.m. when the lights come on. 

“It has a little bit of a different vibe in the dark,” White said. “So people with young kids, if they get scared easily, may want to come during daylight. We try to keep it family-friendly. But it’s still Halloween.”

Display at the Scarecrow Walk and Haunted Canyon at Red Hills Desert Garden, St. George, Utah, Oct. 13, 2022 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

The new addition of an aerial performer is in the canyon area of the garden. Kendra Hoisington began performing last Saturday and will continue until  Oct. 27 from 6:30-8 p.m in five-minute intervals as crowds cycle through.

One of the participants, Deanna Buchanan, said she and her sister enjoy making a scarecrow. They created scarecrow No. 37 and like taking part in the annual event.

“This is my second year creating an entry. I thought it would be a fun thing to do when my sister moved down, and she funded it and I created it,” Buchanan said. “Ryan works hard to get this thing going and I think he deserves some recognition.”

The idea to create the Scarecrow Walk came from White’s days attending Utah State University where the city of Logan sponsored a pumpkin walk.

“When I first heard Logan’s Pumpkin Walk, I thought, ‘That sounds kind of silly,’ but when I went with my wife, we really enjoyed it,” White said. “We love the creativity of it.”

When the couple moved to St. George, he was trying to come up with various events. That’s when White came up with the Scarecrow Walk.

“It’s a great way for different community members, businesses and organizations to showcase their talents and business. The Red Hills Garden is a perfect venue to do that sort of thing,” White said.

The purpose of the garden is to educate residents about the plants that grow in Washington County but need a lot of water. The garden features cacti, yuccas and agave, which are hardy desert plants.

White said most people usually don’t think about these plants. Still, he hopes the garden’s activities will encourage people to experience the landscapes and see their beauty. By educating people, he also hopes more people will consider making their yards less dependent upon water.

The nearly 5-acre garden is Utah’s first desert conservation garden. Desert Hills Garden features 5,000 water-efficient plants and a 1,150-foot stream stocked with native and endangered fish species. There is a replica slot canyon and prehistoric dinosaur tracks found onsite dating back 200 million years. According to the website, the project is a collaboration of the Washington County Water Conservancy District, the city of St. George and the Virgin River Program.

The other activities throughout the year include the Holiday Lights from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31, Desert Duck Derby in January, Spring Fling and Birdhouse Parade in May.

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