Photo By: Megg McNamee/Special to the Town Crier
All manner of scarecrows adorn the coastal enclave of Cambria during the town’s annual Scarecrow Festival, which runs through October. The artist termed this entry “Where Witches Gather.”
Cambria, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, boasts more than enough scarecrows to take a straw vote.
In 2009, the Cambria (pronounced “Cam,” as in “camera”) Historical Society, grasping at straws to help businesses hit by the recession, hosted the inaugural Cambria Scarecrow Festival, inviting local residents to submit their handmade mannequins for display in local storefronts. Only 30 people entered. The number of scarecrows has snowballed annually, this year reaching a whopping 380 bird decoys.
The scarecrows come in all shapes and sizes, from the realistic Lady Gaga scarecrow at 4015 West St. to frightening witches and cats.
Visit Country Collectibles at 2380 Main St., for example, to find La Catrina visiting Cambria with her dog on Día de los Muertos.
There’s even a group of scarecrow mah-jongg ladies at 950 Main St., in front of the Joslyn Center.
Sue Robinson, volunteer co-chairwoman of the Scarecrow Festival, helps teach scarecrow building classes. She said she loves it and hopes next year’s event attracts even larger crowds – of visitors and scarecrows.
Some high school art students have helped businesses make scarecrows, charging them $20, according to blogger Bigsurkate.
The event runs through October in the romantic artists’ coastal enclave.
Cambria Inns (www.cambriainns.com), which comprises the Castle Inn, Moonstone Cottages, the Blue Dolphin Inn and the newly remodeled Sand Pebbles Inn, entered Mr. Goode Knight, an armored knave, in the Scarecrow Festival.
During January and early February, the Inns will offer Sand Pebble rooms for $99 per night on weekdays and $119 per night on weekends. Blue Dolphin rooms will run $129 per night on weekdays and $149 per night on weekends.
Stroll along Moonstone Beach at sunset after you’ve gone wine tasting. There’s nothing like the Northern California coastline view mixed with the native plants and brusque wind.
Then take in the shops and antique stores – you’re sure to find a distressed leather something at Antiques on Main or one of the other boutiques. You may find some unusual gift items for Christmas.
Cambria is home to many restaurants on Main Street that will delight foodies, like the cozy Black Cat Bistro, Indigo Moon and The Sow’s Ear Café, which is Zagat rated.
Suggestions for tours: A husband-and-wife team runs Central Coast Outdoors (www.centralcoastoutdoors.com), which offers family, group and private kayaking, biking and hiking guided tours of the area. Some include a gourmet picnic lunch. Also try the Paso Robles-based Wine Wrangler (www.thewinewrangler.com), which provides custom tours that pick you up in a Humvee or van and escort you to local wineries so that there’s no need for a designated driver.
While in Cambria, you might want to visit Hearst Castle (www.hearstcastle.org) in nearby San Simeon. The historical landmark offers evening tours with living history volunteers Friday and Saturday nights through December for $36 adults, $18 children. Visitors can soak in the atmosphere of bygone days, when newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst’s glamorous guests dropped in to socialize, play billiards and do jigsaw puzzles.
For more information, visit www.cambriachamber.org.