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Cambria Scarecrow Festival: Behind-the-scenes look at how it comes to life

Posted at 9:41 AM, Sep 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-30 12:41:23-04

It’s a Halloween tradition entering its 14th year, and it’s stronger than ever. KSBY’s Neil Hebert went to Cambria to check out all the work that goes into the Cambria Scarecrow Festival.

Some are spooky, some are satirical, but all are spectacular; more than 200 scarecrows spread across nine displays and 55 Cambria businesses, show off the creativity the village has to offer.

From classics like Dolly Parton and Sir Elton John, to banjo-yielding Kermit the Frog, Frankenstein and Chewbacca, the limit of imagination has no ceiling for these “crow creators.” Kim Miller, who runs the social media for the festival, went with Gene Simmons from Kiss.

“These are regular men’s shoes, corrugated cardboard that I taped to give it the height, sculpting clay, regular clay, and these are some jewels,” said Miller, explaining how she created her Gene Simmons scarecrow. “I sculpted it all around them and then painted it. Gene Simmons has kind of an aquiline nose, so I had to make it with a bump there.”

The process is a long and tedious one; most of the volunteer group begins in April and continues work throughout the summer until it’s time to put them out in late September.

If you are planning to check out the “crows,” as the creators call them, organizers say the best way to do so is to park on one side of the city and walk your way all the way to the other end.

”The scarecrows look good from a car, but when you get up close and see all the detail people put into them, it just is amazing,” said Paula Ufferheide, the president of the Cambria Scarecrow Festival.

Terri Pilot is head of the Dr. Crow program of the festival where the building and repairing of crows happens.

“The more imperfect they are, the more charming they are,” said Pilot.

This year, she got in on the action herself with a take on a comedy from the 60s.

“This is Black Hand Cellars, and for years they've been wanting to have a Mister Ed-type scarecrow because they have these Dutch doors,” said Pilot.

Mister Ed was a talking horse, and Pilot did her best to mimic the TV sitcom, making her Mister Ed smile.

“If you know anything about horses that they make those kinds of expressions. That was really fun. And I love horses, so this was really a labor of love,” said Pilot.

Once you’ve made your way to the end of town, head north to San Simeon where you’ll find Pirates Bay.

“This is its second year. We've made it bigger and better.”

A pirate ship sunken by the Kraken, surrounded by a field of rogue pirates, about 15 volunteers worked to create this masterpiece of roughly 40 scarecrows.

“Everything has to be created to stand 10-15 mile an hour winds with 20 mile an hour gusts,” said Gail Hammerschmidt, a scarecrow creator.

The festival is for all ages, and everyone is welcome.

“The tourists that this festival attracts, it makes a healthy come commerce here and in Cambria; all of our little shops, all of our hotels,” said Ufferheide.

“The kids that ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ and the adults that are smiling and laughing, that just makes it all worthwhile because it brings so much joy to so many people,” said Chris Fischer, a board member and the volunteer coordinator for the Cambria Scarecrow Festival.

The Cambria Scarecrow Festival starts Saturday, October 1st and runs through Halloween. The group is always looking for volunteers. Click herefor more information on volunteering.