How do you make a scarecrow? If it’s on display now in Cambria’s monthlong Scarecrow Festival, the inspiration, concept, methods and materials will be as varied as the artists themselves. Some of the inventors are artists by trade, others by association and aspiration. All are extraordinarily creative.
Some scarecrow makers start with the traditional concept and items, from straw and straw hats to old clothes and gloves. But in the Cambria Festival, even conventional scarecrows have a twist, something that makes them uniquely Cambrian. And some are extremely complex.
That’s certainly true of the elaborate, winning “traditional scarecrow” entry, “Fun Living in the Shoe,” which relied on a time-honored fable for its setting for several sculptures, including residents, the old woman and the shoe itself.
From the basic scarecrow concept, the process gets more complex and tricky. Some artisans use mannequins (all or part) as a base for the artistically enhanced face or for the entire scarecrow, as did the designer of spooky “Victoria, The Bridge Street Inn Spider Queen.”
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Other scarecrow builders design from the skeleton out. Some scarecrow bodies start with wood or PVC pipe, which can be padded with materials as diverse as bubble wrap, newspaper, magazines, old pantyhose, old clothes or linens, duct tape, paper mache and several kinds of putty.
A few scarecrows, such as a couple of festival winners, are constructed of … ummm … unusual ingredients.
Think cornstalks and 12-and-a-half-foot-tall wooden thrones for the Best of Show entry, “Royal Cornstalkers.”
Or a variety of glitzy materials for “Puff,” a sizeable, regal blue dragon on a box throne, a display that won the most-imaginative category.
Or all sorts of salvaged items, from a tree stump, mosaic tile, copper cable, electric wire, old washpan panels, and eyes made of tractor-pull links in the “Crazy Eight” metal octopus, which appropriately won in the “using the unexpected” category.
On Oct. 5, judges Joe Johnston (photographer for The Tribune), Christina Favuzzi of KSBY and Pam Roberts from the Visit San Luis Obispo County organization selected 27 winners as the best of the best for 2017. However, every scarecrow in the festival, from Cambria to Harmony to San Simeon, is a winner in the eyes of the thousands of people who flock to the area to see the autumnal display.
The scarecrows are to remain on display throughout October, although some may be covered up or taken inside on extra-windy or rainy days, assuming there are any of those this month.
And the winners are (along with their locations and the names of their creators):
Best of Show — The “Royal Cornstalkers” display by Ron Castadio and Linda Ennen of J. Patrick House. Look for the giant thrones on the Rabobank side of Cambria Drive.
Best Traditional Scarecrow — 1. “Fun Living in the Shoe,” by Cambria Newcomers Club, the lot next to the Bluebird Motel, 1880 Main St.; 2. “Olallieberry Acres,” by Maureen and Nelson Hubbell, Olallieberry Inn, 2476 Main St.; 3. “Daisy,” by Bonnie Neuer, Vickie Czerwiec and Amy Marshall, between Santa Rosa Catholic Church and Rabobank, 1174 Main St.
Most Imaginative Scarecrow — 1. “Puff” by Ashton Hartley, CCAT, Old Cambria Grammar School, 1350 Main St.; 2. “Vincent Van Crow” by Frank Albro, The Nest Gallery, 2164 Center St.; 3. “Cinderella Missed Her Curfew” Shara Tatham, Simplify at The Garden Shed, 2024 Main St.
Best Scarecrow Inspired by Real Life — 1. “Farmers Market Fresh,” by Sara Blair Field, Michele Sherman and Anna Dupree, Robin’s restaurant, 4095 Burton Drive; 2. “Frida and Diego Doing a Plein Air Demonstration in the Garden,” by Evelyn Morales, El Chorlito Mexican Restaurant, 9155 Hearst Drive, San Simeon. 3. “Edgar Allen Scarepoe” by Kathryn Clayton, Taryn Knapp and Daisy Rutledge — Spellbound Herbs, 4101 Burton Drive
Best Group Installation — 1. “Cambria Dwarfs,” Christin Fisher and Tigg Morales, Lucia Apothecary, 746 Main St.; 2. Vast Cambria Nursery display by nursery staff, 2801 Eton Road at Burton Drive; 3. “Feelin’ Groovy” by Terri Amberg, Susan Atencio, Julie Bales, April Benham, Connie Brauer, Sally DiMaggio, Kathy Lindberg, Helen Pitton and Margaret Stebbins, next to Rabobank, 1070 Main St.
Best Animation — 1. “New Wave Riders,” by Mona and Bill Shephard, BlueBird Motel, 1880 Main St.; 2. “Angrier Than Before,” by Tom Laycook, Moonstone Cellars, 812 Cornwall; 3. “Lucia Grape Stomper,” By Susan Hill, Brian Foster and Chris Fischer, Black Hand Cellars, 766 Main St., Suite B.
Best Humorous Scarecrow — “Doggie Catcher,” by Joanne and Ed Yenshaw, Bronze, Silver and Gold, 786 Main St.; 2. “Lonely Old Codger and Young Scout,” which will remind you of a charming 2009 animated movie. By Susan Hill and Carol Guillary, 4056 Burton Drive. 3. “Flying Ranchhand,” by Hollie Millard, Oceanpoint Ranch, 7200 Moonstone Beach Drive and (tie) “Mr. Olive Head,” by Lorraine Montello, Montello Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room, 784 Main St.
Best Scarecrow Using the Unexpected — 1. “Crazy Eight,” by Franz Affentranger, Patricia Griffin Studio, 1601 Main St.; 2. “Gerald Grootmeier,” by Robin Brennan, Madeline’s restaurant, 788 Main St.; 3. “Tree Bob: The ENT of the East Village,” by Team RECC, Real Estate Company of Cambria, 2080 Main St. Honorable Mention: “Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kitty,” by Mike Zarowitz, HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team), 2638 Main St.
Best Scarecrow by Student or Child — 1. “Crows Gotta Eat,” by Cuesta College Art Club (Alex Johson, Rebecca Myers, Savannah Arroyo, Matthew Ramos, Isabelle Tubin and Alejandro Echeverria), Highway 1 at Cambria Drive; 2. “Photo Crow,” by Madison and Mason Breen, Breen Realty, 768 Main St.; 3. Student Workshop display, at the Pinedorado grounds next to the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St. Awarded to all students who attended the scarecrow-building workshop.
Celebrate the final weekend of the 2017 Cambria Scarecrow Festival at “Octoberfest,” presented by the Cambria Lions Club and the Festival. Join the fun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Pinedorado Grounds, 1000 Main St. Listen to live music, munch brats and buy local brews, including from 927 Beer. Wine tasting will be offered by Pacific Coast Wine Trail participants, and local wines and beer will be available for purchase by the glass. Tickets available at the entrance that day, $10 for food, additional charges for beverages.