Where can you find Betty Boop, Amelia Earhart and an orange elephant with her legs locked in the lotus position?
At the Cambria Scarecrow Festival, of course.
Now in its eighth year, the free, month-long festival, which kicked off Oct. 1, features more than 500 scarecrows stationed throughout the quaint Central Coast community of Cambria. (A few can be found in the neighboring hamlets of San Simeon and Harmony.)
The colorful, often kooky scarecrows — built by local businesses and residents using everything from burlap and garbage bags to PVC pipe and pool noodles — range from the fun to the funky to the fabulous. Some of them even celebrate specific themes, such as Cambria’s 150th birthday and the CowParade San Luis Obispo County public art installation.
The Tribune recently chatted with four artists about the inspiration and construction process behind their scarecrows. For more information about the Cambria Scarecrow Festival, visit cambriascarecrows.com.
“Feminine Mystique” by Michelle Campos and Savannah Lyon
For some, feminism is no laughing matter. But the subject inspires a few chuckles when personified as “Feminine Mystique,” a scarecrow created by 17-year-old students Michelle Campos and Savannah Lyon.
Both seniors at Coast Union High School in Cambria, Campos and Lyon belong to Interact Club, a community-minded youth organization sponsored by Rotary Club of Cambria. This year, they took part in a scarecrow-making workshop aimed at kids and organized by the Cambria Scarecrow Festival.
For “Feminine Mystique,” the pair sought inspiration from Betty Friedan’s 1963 book “The Feminine Mystique” and the Seneca Falls Convention in New York organized in 1848 to address women’s rights and issues.
“We tried to make her look like a woman of that day, but with a modern twist,” Campos explained.
As a result, the scarecrow, which features a burlap face and a wooden frame body, sports a rainbow-colored floral lace dress, improvised leopard-print bloomers and fishnet stockings on her plastic pool noodle legs.
Comically, she’s posed upside down and sports a mustache and a bald scalp.
“She’s falling down in distress,” Campos said of the scarecrow, who’s stationed at the Pinedorado Grounds.
“Clueless Clem and Bossy the Cow” by Christine Fischer
A month after retired teacher Christine “Chris” Fischer moved to Cambria, she took a workshop sponsored by the Cambria Scarecrow Festival.
“I wanted a way to meet people and I wanted a way to get involved in the community,” said Fischer, who left Visalia for the Central Coast in 2014. The avid sewer and crafter also relished the opportunity for artistic expression.
Last fall, Fischer’s scarecrow “Turn on Your Heartlight” — a remarkably lifelike depiction of the title character from science fiction movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” — won Best of Show in the festival’s adult category.
This year, she and her husband, Pat, won the award for most humorous scarecrow for “Clueless Clem and Bossy the Cow,” which features a dim-witted dairyman seeking milk from an uncooperative cow. They face off in front of Lucia Apothecary.
Both scarecrows feature PVC pipe frames shaped with masking tape, shelving paper and newspaper.
Bossy, like E.T., is covered with painter’s drop cloth cut into shreds, while Clem gets his complexion from papier mache and his facial hair from clay. Their bellies are garbage bags stuffed with recycled plastic wrap, and homegrown gourds cover their feet. (Pat Fischer was the cobbler.)
Also this year, Chris Fischer teamed up with Cambria residents Susan Foreman and Marjorie “Marj” Sewell to create “Harmony,” a happy heifer who holds a working 12-inch Swiss clock. She stands in front of Foreman’s Cambria clock shop, Once Upon a Tyme.
“These have been really fun for me,” Fischer said, describing each scarecrow as an experiment. “I feel like I’ve learning constantly as I’m making these.”
“Do You Know the Way to Morro Bay?” by Tish Rogers
She started with a metal pipe, then shaped the fish’s body using pigeon wire covered with instant papier mache. Her fins are fashioned from a fabric flag and pieces of a skimboard.
At the scarecrow’s base, faux flowers and dried lotus pods double as sea anemone and shellfish, respectively. Fake fish wend their way past plastic seaweed and spray-foam coral.
Primarily a painter, Rogers retired from teaching and moved to Cambria in 1999 to devote more time to her art. She’s been participating in the Cambria Scarecrow Festival for seven years as an artist and instructor.
Whenever she needs materials, “I wander through the hardware store,” Rogers said, or stops by the dollar store. She consults with her husband of 49 years, engineer Jim Rogers, whenever she runs into a construction problem.
“It’s fun. I always say it keeps me in trouble,” Rogers said with a laugh.
Pirates by Tammy Stone
When it comes to the Cambria Scarecrow Festival, Paso Robles resident Tammy Stone doesn’t like to limit herself.
Last year, Stone created a massive “Alice in Wonderland”-themed installation at the Cambria Nursery, where she works as a horticulturalist and assistant manager. (George Marschall is nursery manager.)
This fall, she crafted a bevy of buccaneers using rubber masks, wigs, cast-off clothing, costume jewelry and other materials. The rowdy marauders have colorful names such as Jezebel Jack, Harlock Flint and Guybrush Threepwood.
Stone picked her swashbuckling theme in January, inspired by the popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise and theme park ride.
A total of 30 pirates are scattered in small groups throughout the nursery. Stone, who’s participating in the Cambria Scarecrow Festival for the fourth year, even recruited a few scarecrows from past festivals — dressing up Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” as Dreaded Dot.
Pirates can be seen swigging back beer at a bar, drifting on rafts and digging through a treasure chest. In one vignette, mutineers fire a working water cannon at a ship with a cawing crow on its prow. Stone’s husband built the vessel out of wine barrels, while a coworker painted backdrops and signs bearing the names of pirate ships.
“I like to do a story with everything because it makes it more fun,” Stone explained.
Cambria Scarecrow Festival
What: Fun scarecrows on display
When: Daily, through Oct. 31
Where: Cambria, San Simeon and Harmony
How much: Free