The crows didn’t stand a chance at the Brookhaven Free Library as 15 scarecrows were proudly assembled on the lawn.
They sprang into being from piles of hay, some dressed in classic flannels or old sweatshirts, while others took on unique personas -- a scarecrow farmer, a scarecrow villain, a scarecrow hippie.
They were on display Saturday during the annual Scarecrow Contest, one of the library's premier fall events, said Deb Domingos, head of children’s services.
“We’ve been doing it for 14 or 15 years,” she said. “It’s just a really good, good time.”
Participating families create the head of their scarecrow at home and bring all the trimmings. The library provides the hay and old newspapers for stuffing. When Domingos gave the word, everyone started assembling.
Children ran straight for the bales of hay, tearing them apart and leaving trails of straw behind them as they ran back to their stations. Bodies were assembled on the ground then lifted onto their perches. In the end, parents lifted the pre-made heads onto their scarecrows’ shoulders or lifted their children so they could reach.
While they worked, library staff served refreshments and The Banjo Rascals, a three-person band, provided a country soundtrack.
Sara McGiff, 12, of Brookhaven, took home third place with her family’s “Organic Alien Farmer” scarecrow made entirely of vegetables.
McGiff participates every year -- but the real fun, she said, comes after the contest is over when the children make the most out of the leftover hay.
“It’s fun being buried,” she said as a group of younger children came up behind her and threw armfuls of hay over her head.
Susan Shiebler, of East Patchogue, and her four children took home first place - the prize being the honor itself and incentive to win again next year.
Shiebler came up with the scarecrow concept -- a high-class New York City woman out walking her dogs. The scarecrow wore a blond wig, shimmery purple jacket and a Coach bag over her arm. A gloved hand held on to the leashes of four stuffed dogs at the scarecrows feet.
“She’s a dog walker that’s trying to walk just way more dogs than she ever should,” Shiebler said. “She’s overwhelmed but still trying to look fashionable.”
Shiebler and her children -- Michael, Elissa, Matthew and Christa -- participate in the contest every year and also won a couple of years ago.
“I like that it’s very family oriented, very traditional small-town feeling,” she said. “It’s really reminiscent of fall and everything fall stands for -- cool air and building scarecrows.”
Photo: Susan Shiebler, right, and her daughter Elissa put the finishing touches on their scarecrow during the Brookhaven Free Library's annual Scarecrow Contest. (Oct. 15, 2011)