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Central Coast Living: Cambria Scarecrow Festival kicks off its 11th year of community artwork

Posted at 11:42 AM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 15:11:21-04

Head north on Highway 1 and you will find a festival that is now 11 years strong and internationally known, featuring hundreds of well-decorated scarecrows.

Among the Pines by the Sea sit some of the most imaginative, meticulously crafted art.

"First of all, it will just make you smile," said Paulla Ufferheide, Cambria Scarecrow Festival Board Director.

Central Coast Living: Cambria Scarecrow Festival kicks off its 11th year of community artwork

What began as an idea to bring together a community has now exploded to hundreds of scarecrows for the annual festival.

"We usually have between 300 and 400 scarecrows between Cambria and San Simeon," Ufferheide said.

From the adorable to the downright scary, judging the annual contest is very serious business.

"We are a town of lots of artists and the artists really do covet their work. Which they should. And they do work very, very hard on these," Ufferheide said. "Some people are working at the very last minute before it's time to put them out."

Artist Beverly Whitaker has come to create some scarecrows that are known for their use of scares and crows.

"After awhile you get a little attached to them. They're kinda like kids," Whitaker said, standing in front of her Alfred Hitchcock piece. "Then you get a little tired of them and shove them out the door," she laughed.

And these scarecrows are doing a different job than their traditional "9 to 5" -- their presence is lifting the local economy.

"October used to be a very slow time in Cambria," Ufferheide said. "Merchants really struggled to make October work for them. Once the scarecrow festival really got into it's full swing, it's one of their top months of the year."

Ufferheide said last year's festival resulted in 700 "heads in beds" on the weekends of October, with local hotels, motels and vacation rentals booked up.

The end result? A good time for all who visit.

"I like all the smiles. So it's good. It's good for everybody," Whitaker said.

The results from the competition will be announced on Oct. 19 at the Octoberfest event on the Pinedorado Grounds.

You can take a look at the map of locations here.