The Scarecrows of Cambria
Several years ago – back in the late ’90s – I discovered Cambria.
Perhaps you’ve seen the license plate frames: Cambria – Where the pines meet the sea. And indeed the pines do meet the sea, a wonderful combination. Think Malibu butting up to Big Bear. Incongruous? Definitely … yet it works.
Located in the Central Coast of California, Cambria has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s and, thanks to the local historical society, that history is available to anyone interested in learning about it.
Nowadays, the town reflects a more recent history, that of an artists’ enclave. Cambria is home to many galleries that offer everything from sculpture to traditional watercolor and photographic displays. You can spend hours (and I have) just going from gallery to gallery, checking out the work of the various artists. Back in the days when I worked for Art Center College of Design, I would visit the galleries of Cambria, smiling when I came across the name of an artist with whom I was familiar.
But you don’t have to be an art aficionado to enjoy time in Cambria.
Located just south of the Hearst property in San Simeon, Cambria has much to offer. A clean coastline, beautiful architecture and scarecrows can be found in the little town.
Wait – scarecrows?
Just three years ago, a Cambria resident pitched the idea of the town hosting a scarecrow festival after she visited one elsewhere. The idea caught on and this October more than 200 scarecrows can be found around town.
How do I know? Because I spent this past weekend in the picture perfect village of Cambria.
Friends – dear, wonderful, generous friends – offered me the use of their vacation home and I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. So a friend and I headed north on Friday afternoon to spend three glorious days in Cambria.
At the edge of town a sign welcomes visitors, but this past weekend as we approached we saw an official greeter of sorts. A figure was standing near the welcome sign, about the height of a man with paper-mâché features.
Pulling into the west end of town were more figures, this time depicting a high school marching band with a mom and child watching. Further down the road in front of the church were three nuns, one with a guitar. Outside the bakery was a chef wearing the signature hat. Four figures were “riding” bikes near the school (the wheels were even rotating). One of the four was actually a skeleton – obviously a nod to Halloween.
The Scarecrow Festival takes place during the entire month of October, but last weekend was also the town’s Harvest Festival.
The popularity of these events was apparent in the number of folks who crowded the streets and sidewalks. The historical society was hosting the Harvest Festival’s main events in its courtyard. A banjo player serenaded the visitors with old time favorites like, “Good Ole Mountain Dew,” Mother Goose – with a real goose! – greeted the children and among the many vendors and information booths were – you guessed it – more scarecrows.
The atmosphere was fun and light and I felt fortunate to have chosen that weekend to head north.
The Harvest Festival takes place the second weekend of October each year, so you may want to mark your calendars now.
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