Scarecrows: Figures of Fall to Dot Big Bear

Mountain sunshine and autumn icons combine to lend the season some sweetness.

HAY, HATS, AND HAPPINESS: So say you're a village, or a town, or a quaint little burg that's in the mountains or near the ocean or located right in the middle of wine country. You do a humming business all year long with the visitors who want to be a part of the charm and the prettiness and whatever your local attractions happen to be (skiing, wine tasting, restaurants, the beach). What do you do when autumn arrives, and temperatures take a crisper turn, and the visitor flow keeps on keepin' on, unabated by the end of summer? Why you embrace all that is autumnal and picturesque, and that starts, of course, with that hat-topped icon of the season, the scarecrow. A number of Golden State burgs are placing the arms-out, hay-within figures around their plazas and central square, and the result out-cutes every other cute thing around. Cambria and Solvang both enjoy month-long scarecrow festivals, and so does Big Bear Lake, which is heading into year two of its scarecrow hoedown. So what happens at a scarecrow fest? The hay-happy figures do not spring to life, a la a certain famous scarecrow from a certain movie with a certain yellow brick road, but they do stand in front of shops and eateries, a sight that gives the foliage-fantastic season more color and oomph.

SEPT. 25 THROUGH NOV. 8... are the dates of the 2015 Scarecrow Festival, and you only need stroll through Big Bear Village to see "the dozens of scarecrows," some of which will rock that traditional scarecrow look. Others definitely do not, so if you like your fall favorites to be a little funkier, you'll be in the right spot. The scarecrows, or rather the merchants who created them, will compete in six categories, including "most traditional" and "spookiest" (there's also a category applauding recycled material use, so hooray that). Are you headed up the mountain to see some leaves in their golden dress? Saunter first through the village for a serious scarecrow-y soak-up of the season.

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