Scarecrow Festival unruffled by vandalism

ktanner@thetribunenews.comOctober 11, 2012 

By press deadline, judging is to have been completed on the more than 200 official entries in the 2012 Scarecrow Festival in Cambria. Winners are to be announced Sunday afternoon, Oct. 14, at the Cambria Historical Society’s Harvest Festival.

Guides are now available to the many soft-sculpture displays throughout downtown Cambria and along Moonstone Beach Drive. Pick up a guide at: the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, 767 Main St.; the Cambria Historical Museum at Burton Drive and Center Street; Centrally Grown (formerly The Hamlet) on Exotic Gardens Drive; and The Cambrian’s office, 2242 Main St.

Centrally Grown donated the four-fold guides produced by Barnett Cox & Assoc.

Other, unregistered scarecrow exhibits have been added since the judging deadline (even on Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and in some residential neighborhoods), bringing the unofficial total number of Cambria scarecrows up to more than 350.

Meanwhile, nearly a dozen scarecrows were vandalized late Oct. 4 or 5, according to festival officials. Another was knocked off its display that Saturday night.

Organizers are asking people to be extra observant during the festival. Taylor Hilden, festival co-chair, said, “This festival belongs to the community, and we would ask everyone to help us with a neighborhood watch format at all times of day, especially during the very late evening hours into the early morning, and to call the sheriff immediately with any problems they've seen.”

The vandalism was reported to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

The scarecrows trashed, moved or knocked over were all in the square block bounded by Main Street, Burton Drive and Center Street in Cambria’s historic East Village, according to Sue Robinson, festival co-chair.

The penalty for misdemeanor vandalism (less than $400 in damages) is a fine up to $1,000 and a year in jail. Felony vandalism (damages of $400 or more) is punishable by a year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Higher fines are possible for damages of $10,000 and up.

Making a scarecrow takes thought, skill and lots of time, Robinson said. “Some people take weeks to make theirs. You can’t put a dollar figure on one of these scarecrows.”

Coast Union High School students made some of the damaged scarecrows.

The vandalism “is a slap in the face to everybody in the community who worked so hard,” Robinson said. “It’s sad that there are people whose main goal in life is to make other people miserable.”

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