You may have seen scarecrows erected in farmers’ fields to ward off pests, but if you run into these lifelike sculptures on a dark night in October lurking along the sidewalks in this town, you might think you are in the middle of a horror movie. On the other hand, if you see them on a sunny day you will think this is the cutest village on the California Coast.
I, alas, drove into town on a rainy night last week after suffering a flat tire on a dark stretch of highway 1 by the sea, and was immediately freaked out by the haunting, life-size figures—some covered by protective plastic bags—until street lights in the town center revealed the truth: I had stumbled upon the Cambria Scarecrow Festival, “Where Whimsy Runs Rampant”.
Half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles the eighth annual festival provides a delightful display of the imagination and community spirit hidden in two of the most charming towns along the Central Coast.
More than 540 “scarecrows” are on display this year lining the streets of these neighboring towns—nearby San Simeon joined in the fun a few years after Cambria had founded the month-long festival.
WATCH: Teen Makes Charcoal Portraits of Entire Graduating Class, Unifying Fractured School
Each year, local students, residents, and businesses construct and maintain these fanciful creatures to celebrate local creativity.
This year adds an historical flavor, since the hamlet of Cambria is also celebrating its 150th anniversary.
The 2016 blue ribbon for Best of Show went to Philip Hauser who created Betty Boop, flirting with shoppers outside an Antiques Mall.
Does this creepy scarecrow remind anyone of a Tim Burton movie?
The award for Most Lifelike by a Student artist went to Raely Barbosa, for “Beauty Briann” who is primping herself outside the Diva Day Spa, which funded the project.
Other businesses, like this restaurant, use the festival to peek interest in potential customers…
This flower goddess graces the sidewalk outside a plant nursery…
My favorites, though, were the movie characters— like Edward Scissorhands…
…And, Doc Brown, who made a reappearance this year, after winning previously for ‘Most Lifelike’—and honoring its film franchise by returning ‘Back to the Future’.
This nurse looks a little like Shirley MacClaine…
Famous paintings were also represented, like this brilliant American Gothic depiction.
‘Cecilia’ celebrates in pajamas outside Linn’s Restaurant 2277 Main Street in Cambria.
Ashton Hartley did a terrific job on this Scarecrow, Puff the dragon, sponsored by Ragged Point Inn.
This teacher is more scolding than the actual teachers in this school where their scarecrow gets an A+.
The first thing tourists see coming from Route 1 is a huge display sponsored by radio station KJUG that depicts a 20-foot-tall straw monster scaring various characters (see top photo), each one with its own story—just like the residents of this charming town.
–Photos by Cambria Scarecrows on Facebook and Good News Network