Let There Be Scarecrows

Written by Jill Turnbow

September 23, 2020

A group of scarecrows are ready to take over the town for the 12th annual Cambria Scarecrow Festival.
Photo by Paulla Ufferheide

October is one of the most anticipated months in Cambria due to the extreme popularity of the Cambria Scarecrow Festival. This year’s Festival will still happen, but there have been some changes due to the pandemic restrictions. Organizers are doing everything they can to stay within the county’s health and safety guidelines, so they have restructured the displays to keep visitors safe.

This year the Festival will set up five separate viewing areas to display the estimated 150 scarecrows.

“With so many businesses and restaurants bringing their operations to the sidewalks, we didn’t want to add to the congestion, so we felt like having designated sites was the perfect solution,” Scarecrow Festival President, Paulla Ufferheide said.

The designated viewing areas are spaced throughout the villages of Cambria, each with one-way walkways in order to safely social distance. The slated five viewing areas are:
• The old Brambles parking lot in the East Village on Burton Drive
• The Mid Village in front of the Santa Rosa Catholic Church on Main St.
• The Pinedorado Grounds on Main St.
• The lot next to the Shell Station in the West Village
• The area next to San Simeon Bar & Grill

“The San Simeon display is especially unique this year,” said Ufferheide. “We will feature “Maude Zombie” who is running for Mayor of San Simeon. She will preside over a rally of her Zombie followers.”

Scarecrows offer healthy snacks during a previous Cambria Scarecrow Festival. Photo by Michelle Sherman 

One of the biggest challenges this year’s Festival has been in the fundraising.

“Our preliminary events have all had to cancel and our rental program was put on hold,” Ufferheide said. The Festival organization stores the scarecrows during the year and, previously, businesses were able to rent a scarecrow for the month. “And the storage units are not cheap” added Ufferheide.

Other elements of the Festival have also been cancelled due to COVID-19. Scarecrow building that typically begins in April was cancelled due to the restrictions on groups gathering in workshops. Many diehard volunteers rose to the challenge and built their scarecrows at home.

“We can’t have our usual team setting up the displays either,” said Ufferheide. “We typically have 40 or 50 volunteers, but with the individual viewing areas, smaller teams can set up a step at a time. We want our volunteers to stay safe, too.”

This year marks the 12th year the Festival has taken place, and the creative team has big plans for the fall of 2021 in hopes of making it even bigger. But the 2020 event promises to be fun and inviting for visitors and locals to enjoy.

The Festival runs from October 1 through November 1. Visit the website Cambriascarecrows.com where you will find an interactive map to locate all the scarecrows on display. While on the site you can participate in an important survey as well as donate to save a scarecrow. This year the scarecrows are not being judged, but you can vote for your favorite.

“We wanted to continue the Scarecrow Festival this year, even with the limitations put on us by these crazy times,“ Ufferheide said. “We did it for the smiles. We need smiles more than anything right now — a reason to be outdoors and enjoy the day. We need a break.”

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