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Valley to Scare Up Autumn Scarecrow Festival

The Santa Ynez Valley will welcome the fall season with the annual Santa Ynez Valley Scarecrow Fest and Contest Sunday, Oct. 1. The event coincides with the opening of Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Celebration of Harvest Weekend event.

The Scarecrow Fest, sponsored in part by Visit Santa Ynez Valley, will for the fifth time, include the communities of Ballard, Buellton, Los Olivos and the town that started the original Scarecrow Fest, Solvang.

The month-long Scarecrow Fest runs through Oct. 31, during which time visitors and locals are encouraged to play, stay and enjoy the scarecrow sights and scheduled seasonal events.

The Santa Ynez Valley will boast upwards of 150 scarecrows this year, on which the public is invited to judge and vote for their favorites in the field.

Crafted by local businesses, individuals and organizations, the scarecrows will be showcased throughout the Valley in the four main communities of Solvang (including Ballard), Los Olivos and Buellton.

The winning scarecrows from each town will be eligible for the 2017 Harvest Cup: Best in the Valley title and trophy, the winner of which will be announced at a Nov. 15 ceremony in Buellton.

The Home Connection, a Solvang business, was awarded the 2016 Harvest Cup for its scarecrow entry titled Succulent Sam.

Each of the Santa Ynez Valley towns holds its own Scarecrow Fest and associated contest; the rules vary slightly from town to town, but all have the ultimate goal of appointing a Best Scarecrow to represent each town in the quest for the Valley-wide Harvest Cup trophy.

Solvang’s eighth annual Scarecrow Fest, which last year, included about 100 entries, is co-coordinated by Mike Chaput of Amplify Marketing Solutions and Tracy Beard, executive director of the Solvang Chamber of Commerce.

Los Olivos’ Scarecrow Fest, coordinated by Liz Dodder Hansen, executive director of the Los Olivos Chamber of Commerce, and Buellton’s Scarecrow Fest, put together by Kathy Vreeland, executive director of the Buellton Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce, will also contribute dozens of scarecrows to this year’s Valley-wide fest.

Fall in the Santa Ynez Valley brings myriad activities:

» For big kids, there are wine and/or food events: Santa Barbara Vintners’ Celebration of Harvest, Sept. 29-Oct. 2; Solvang 3rd Wednesday Wine & Beer Walk, Oct. 18; Real Men Cook, Buellton, Oct. 21; and Santa Barbara County Craft Beer Week, various locations, Oct. 23-29.

» For kids of all ages, Halloween street fairs and haunted houses: 24th Annual Halloween Haunted House and Street Fest, Solvang, Oct. 30-31; Santa Ynez Halloween Street Faire, Oct. 31; Ballard Inn Haunted House, Oct. 31; and dog-inclusive Family Fun Run, Los Olivos, Oct. 21.

Also,  Los Olivos’ Annual Day in the Country, Oct. 21; and the Solvang Faeriefest at the Solvang Festival Theater, Oct. 14-15.

» Longer-term events running simultaneous to Scarecrow Fest: Solvang Farmer Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze; and the new jazz and art events in Solvang Park – the Solvang Jazz in the Gazebo Fall Concert Series – hosted by Solvang Chamber of Commerce every Sunday, through October.

The Santa Ynez Valley’s first Scarecrow Fest was held in Solvang in 2010, initiated by the Solvang 3rd Wednesday committee.

The original contest was created to drive business to the participating companies, storefronts, merchants and organizations, as well as to the town and the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley locales.

More information about the Santa Ynez Valley Scarecrow Fest is at

— Anna Ferguson-Sparks for Visit Santa Ynez Valley.

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