Hoschton's scarecrow count reaches 5,441

HOSCHTON - Got scarecrows?

Hoschton does - 5,441 of them, to be exact.

The city surpassed its goal of creating 4,000 scarecrows and is poised to take the Guinness World Records title from the Cincinnati Horticultural Society, which set the record in 2003 for having 3,311 scarecrows at its Flower and Farm Fest.

The straw men, displayed throughout the 30548 ZIP code, were created by 69 businesses, six churches, three farms, 17 organizations, eight schools and 49 subdivisions, along with individuals and families, said Robbie Bettis, a lifelong Hoschton resident who developed the idea to break the world record for largest number of scarecrows in one location.

Hoschton Mayor Bill Copenhaver said at first he was skeptical the Jackson County town of about 1,700 could come close to breaking the record, but he's pleased the community rallied together.

"I think it's great," he said. "It shows what a community can do when they want to do something."

Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce President Shane Short met with city officials Tuesday to verify the scarecrow count before the results were sent to Guinness World Records in London. It will be weeks before the authority on record-breaking achievement lets Hoschton know if it has set the record.

"You should be very proud," Oxendine told the group gathered at the historic Hoschton Train Depot on Ga. Highway 53. "This is a proud day for the people in the entire state of Georgia."

Hoschton is small in geography and population, but its spirit and enthusiasm is unmatched, Oxendine said.

"If you could harvest the energy, harvest the civic pride, every city in Georgia would be grateful," Oxendine said.

Short said the effort shows great community spirit.

"I'm real proud of what this community has done to put Hoschton on the map around the world," he said.

Bettis said the city's record-breaking attempt has gotten national and international attention.

"We will be known as a scarecrow town for a long time," Bettis said.