The Cambria Scarecrow Festival is adding new flair. To help visitors and locals make the most of the annual event, organizers are hosting several activities during the first weekend in October. This includes a gala fundraiser Thursday, a guided bus tour Friday evening, a food and wine festival on the Pinedorado Grounds on Saturday afternoon, and an awards announcement ceremony at the Cambria Veterans Hall, also Saturday.
“Visitors tell us they want to experience more of this wonderful area when they see our scarecrows,” said Taylor Hilden, president of the Cambria Scarecrow Festival. “With that in mind, we’re adding several events to help celebrate our local community and Cambria’s 150th birthday.”
The centerpiece of the opening weekend events is the Toast to the Coast Food, Wine and Beer Fest. It will take place Saturday, Oct. 1, beginning at 11:30 a.m. on the Pinedorado Grounds at 1000 Main St. in the West Village of Cambria.
The 11 members of the Pacific Coast Wine Trail will offer tastings from their vineyards, while local brewer Aaron Wharton of 927 Beer Company is coordinating participating microbrewers from the area. In addition, the festival is inviting a number of food trucks, including the Harmony Valley Creamery ice cream truck, and will provide live music and other entertainment throughout the afternoon. To add to the fall spirit, the Nipomo Pumpkin Patch will also be on hand to sell pumpkins and fall flowers.
Food, as well as beer and wine by the glass, will be available for sale from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. An all-access pass to the wine- and beer-tasting experience will cost $25, with tastings booths open from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The Cambria Lions Club and the Cambria Scarecrow Festival Inc. are sponsoring this special event. Profits will be used to fund each organization’s respective causes.
That same day, at 2:30 p.m., the festival will announce its award-winning scarecrows in both the adult and student categories. This ceremony will take place in the vets hall, and admission is free. Any individual who registered a scarecrow is encouraged to attend this event. Whether or not the person wins one of the cash or ribbon prizes; he or she will still receive a special thank you gift for participating in this year’s festival.
In addition, the Cambria Trolley will run Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 1. The trolley provides an excellent way of seeing a large number of scarecrows without having to deal with traffic. People will be able to get on and off at every one of the major scarecrow installations in the East and West Village, as well as along Moonstone Beach. Trolley rides will be free.
Another new activity is the VIP Sunset Guided Preview Tour and Dinner. Participants will gather in the East Village at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30 for an advance look at the best of the 2016 scarecrows. A bus will take guests to various stops where they will have a chance to debark, take photos and talk to some of the scarecrow creators. Stops will occur in the East Village, West Village and Moonstone Drive, before the tour arrives in San Simeon for a sunset champagne toast at the San Simeon Beach Bar and Grill. Guests will return by bus to the East Village for a special dinner at Robin’s Restaurant. Harmony Cellars, the official sponsor for this event, will pair its wines with the dinner. Only 42 tickets are available for this unique, one-time event. The price is $90.
Finally, as in years past, the festival hosts its annual Gala Under the Stars at the Cambria Nursery to officially kick off scarecrow season. This year’s event begins at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 29. This event, which benefits the administration of the festival and its support for local art students, will feature an array of appetizers catered by the Cambria Pines Lodge, wines from area wineries, live music by Marcus DiMaggio, a silent auction, and some surprise activities.
Tickets for the two-hour event are $35 in advance.
Tickets for all of the events can be purchased by visiting the festival’s website at www.cambriascarecrows.com and clicking on events. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 805-395-2399 or by searching for Cambria events on EventBrite.com.
Hilden adds about this year’s festival: “The opening weekend events are just the start of a great October. Thanks to student and adult participants in recent scarecrow-building workshops, we anticipate several new, fun and innovative installations — including one on Cambria Drive by the Rabobank with a whole new flair. Plus, as always, the talented kids at the high school will be rolling out some creative new scarecrows for a number of our local businesses. We expect this to be the best festival yet.”