Celebrating the seasonal harvest with a festival brings people together---nurturing a feeling of community---and encourages them to think about where their food comes from. Also, a harvest festival sparks the idea of gratitude for the abundance of the natural world. Thoughtful decorations draw from the ideas of community, nature and abundance to enhance the joyous atmosphere.
Scarecrows conjure up images of endless fields of ripe, golden corn shimmering in a breeze. Place a smiling scarecrow---wearing overalls, a plaid flannel shirt and a straw hat---at the entrance to the harvest fair, perhaps holding a sign that says, "Welcome!" A scarecrow would also make a good centrepiece for a display. Set buckets full of tall sheaves of corn around the scarecrow, so it looks as if the scarecrow is at home doing his job in the field. You could even build a miniature fence around the scene to protect the scarecrow from passersby---and add to the "out in the fields" effect.
Create an informational display that doubles as decoration. Hang replicas of vintage photos depicting the harvest in your area in years gone by. Contrast those photos with contemporary photos showing modern harvesting techniques. Add informational placards so people understand the significance of the photos.
Autumn is the time of the last harvest for the majority of growing areas. Evoke the magic of autumn with leaves cut from coloured paper. Choose leaf shapes, such as the classic five-lobed sugar maple leaf, that reflect the trees grown in your region. Use an electronic paper cutting machine with leaf patterns to make the cutting process quick, accurate and easy. Hang the leaves from the ceiling with fishing line if the festival is indoors. Alternately, tape them to the legs of informational tables, attach them to paper streamers, tack them to walls or hand them out as bookmarks.
If you live in an area where the trees change colour and the festival is being held in the fall, you may be able to gather freshly fallen leaves a day before the festival. Clip the leaves to a clothesline with clothespins.