Folks who attended Friday’s Farmers Market and parked at the Pinedorado Grounds were in for a surprise. The usually empty fake storefronts next to the Veterans Memorial Building were bedecked with scarecrows — and they will remain that way through the end of October. It’s all part of this year’s theme “A Magical Place.”
Deploying scarecrows to the Pinedorado Grounds is a new chapter to the Cambria Scarecrow Festival story. In cooperation with the Lions Club, the festival is inaugurating a large central display at the Pinedorado Grounds, deploying more than three-dozen scarecrows in that small area.
“We thought it was a great idea to create a central destination for festivalgoers. We hope the displays at the Pinedorado Grounds encourage people to park their cars and take the time to look at our creations up close and personal,” said Taylor Hilden, president of Cambria Scarecrow Festival Inc.
This year’s displays revolve around the concept of magic. Various storefronts feature magicians at work; favorite fairy tales like the three little pigs, Peter Pan and the wizard of Oz; fan favorites like the marching band; and even a tribute to the magical fantasy of 1970s
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disco. The displays include new scarecrows as well as existing ones that have been refurbished to star in a new light. There is even a wooden cutout to help people place themselves in the center of a scarecrow scene.
In addition, the Pinedorado Grounds will showcase a gift store each Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers will sell collectables such as festival T-shirts and books. They will also be on hand to answer questions and to provide walking maps for specific areas like the east and west villages.
The Pinedorado Grounds space will officially open as “A Magical Place” on Saturday, Oct. 3. At that time, the Lions Club and the festival are jointly sponsoring “A Salute to Students.” The free family event runs from noon to 2:30 p.m. At 1 p.m., the festival will announce each of the winners in the student scarecrow competition. It will also honor the student who designed this year’s winning theme logo. A free magic show, free ice cream and free popcorn will also be part of the activities.
As always, a wide variety of scarecrows will be found throughout Cambria. This includes the East Village, West Village and Moonstone Beach. Scarecrows can also be seen throughout San Simeon and even the town of Harmony. In all, Taylor estimates more than 400 scarecrows will be on display.
New displays of special interest to regular festival attendees include a Little Red Riding Hood tableau near the Shell station, a vignette featuring characters from “Beauty and the Beast” near the Bluebird Inn, and an extensive set of new creations in the gardens of the Cambria Nursery.
Most scarecrows will sport a nametag that also identifies who built and who sponsors the scarecrow. The nametag includes a QR code that can be scanned using a smartphone or other mobile device to bring up more of the scarecrow’s backstory.
Many of the new scarecrows were built by students at Coast Union High School and rented to local businesses. The festival facilitates this rental program and returns several thousand dollars each year to the local high school arts program.
The festival officially begins this evening, Thursday, Oct. 1, with its annual kickoff party and awards ceremony. The event is held at the Cambria Nursery from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and includes live music, food and wine tastings, raffles and a silent auction.
A limited number of tickets are still available at the door for $35.
For more information about the festival and events, visit www.cambriascarecrows.com.