Remember that creepy scene from “The Shining?” The classic moment from the 1980 thriller lives on today at The Landsby Inn, 1576 Mission Drive, Solvang.
Front desk manager and lifelong “Shining” fan Tommie Lintner created a replica of Jack Nicholson poking his face through a door.
“A lot of people feel like his eyes are moving and following them,” Mr. Lintner told the News-Press.
It’s not their imagination. Mr. Lintner worked on the mechanics so that the eyes are really doing that.
“A lot of times people forget it’s out there. They get startled,” he said with a wicked smile.
“The Shining” creation is an example of how communities have gone beyond traditional straw to create creepy and funny scarecrows for the annual Santa Ynez Valley Scarecrow Fest and Contest.
Scarecrows are outside front doors or in front windows at a hundred or so businesses in Solvang, Santa Ynez, Ballard, Buellton, Los Olivos and Los Alamos. The festival runs through Oct. 31.
The imaginative creations have varied from witches to a high school football quarterback, a hungry caterpillar, minions, the sea witch from “Little Mermaid” and the Valkyrie Spice Girl, complete with Viking hat and microphone. There’s no limit to their diversity!
Businesses created the 5-foot or so high structures from straw, clay, papier-mâché, velour, faux fur, paper and more. There has been some inventive use of recycled or re-purposed materials.
Visitors have cast votes for the scarecrows, and the winners from the various communities will compete for the 2019 Harvest Cup: Best in the Valley. The trophy will be awarded Nov. 20 during a Solvang ceremony.
Last week, the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott was named best overall winner in Buellton, but it faced good competition from contestants such as the Sideways Inn, 114 E. State Route 246. The hotel tied with Patticakes for best humorous scarecrow.
The Sideway Inn entry featured a recreation of a scene from the movie “Sideways.”
“With the scarecrow festival coming up and the 15th anniversary of the movie, we thought it was appropriate to pay homage to our namesake,” Sideways Inn manager Matt Bernard told the News-Press as he led the way to a table by the driveway. One scarecrow is looking on as the other is getting ready to drink wine from the “spit” bucket.
Guests love the scene, Mr. Bernard said. “The number of people who have posed with them and put themselves in the picture is fun to see.”
In addition to the movie recreation, the property has another scarecrow at its Sideways Lounge. It’s holding a sign saying, “Don’t end up sideways.”
Next door, Tori Gonzalez, the activities director at the Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground, decided to bring back the Minions from the “Despicable Me” movies. Last year, they graced the Buellton site, which is at 180 Avenue of the Flags.
But Miss Gonzalez added some new funny twists for this year’s rendition.
“We thought this year that we would make it a little funnier, a little sillier,” she told the News-Press. “That’s why we decided to have the three minion friends hanging out. One of them, if you’ll notice, has a spider on top of his head. We have the other minions thinking it’s really funny, laughing at him.”
She said guests think the scene is funny. “People take pictures in front of them.”
Nearby in Buellton, Zaca Center Preschool, 27 Six Flags Circle, went in a novel direction for its scarecrow by creating the star of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” a children’s book by Eric Carle.
“One of our parents came up with the idea because it’s a favorite story of our children,” school director Shelley Grand told the News-Press as she stood next to the long caterpillar. It was announced last week that the caterpillar won in Buellton for Best Use of Business Theme.
The students, who are ages 2 to 5, created the creature by crumpling up newspapers and using them to fill up bags for the caterpillar’s body, Mrs. Grand said. The kids also made the little hairs on the caterpillar’s back and painted watercolors of what the caterpillar ate.
The head was created by Julie Schneider, one of the parents and a graphic designer.
Mrs. Grand said she’s glad to have a scarecrow that promotes reading.
Another scarecrow emphasizes the importance of a good story. She’s the evil sea witch from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” and she’s reading a book on voice stealing and tricking mermaids in the window of The Book Loft, 1680 Mission Drive, Solvang.
“One of our co-workers, Dawn Lefever, had an idea, and she went with it. It came out brilliantly,” bookseller Heidi Honeyman told the News-Press outside the window. “Dawn designed it and built the body, and Ali Heath (another co-worker) did the face. I provided the props.”
Recycled materials were used in the construction, Mrs. Honeyman said. “The eye glasses are from our lost and found.”
Nearby, The Spice Merchant, has its Valkyrie Spice Girl standing next to Basil, the Solvang business’ Viking longship with a dragon’s head and tail. The Valkyrie Spice Girl has a microphone and is ready to sing.
“We’re calling her the sixth Spice Girl,” co-owner Culley Joy told the News-Press at the business, which is on Atterdag Road and across from Mortensen’s Bakery. “She’s out trying to be a star, and at the same time, she is trading for spices. We have a little sign that says ‘Will Sing for Spices.’ ”
Ms. Joy said she used a mannequin for the Spice Girl and papier-mâché for Basil, who has “fire” — straw — coming from the nose.
“The little kids really like Basil,” Ms. Joy said. “The adults like Valkyrie Spice Girl.”
A few blocks away, the Solvang Bakery, 438 Alisal Road, is greeting visitors with an athletic character — the quarterback of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Pirates.
Bakery co-owner Melissa Redell put her the jersey worn by her son, Ben Redell, the football team’s current quarterback, on the scarecrow. Head coach Josh McClurg provided the helmet and pants.
The team making the scarecrow included Mrs. Redell’s mother, bakery co-owner Susan Harme; Mrs. Redell’s uncle, Ray Harme; and Mrs. Redell’s brother-in-law, Rob Peterson.
“We’ve had a lot of people taking pictures,” Mrs. Redell told the News-Press. “I know there’s a lot of great scarecrows around here. I think this one brings out the valley spirit.
“Everyone has taken their own spin on what it means to be a scarecrow,” said Ms. Redell, who found “The Shining” scene at The Landsby Hotel to be scary.
“I thought I might have second thoughts staying there if I saw the ‘Shining’ guy,” she said with a laugh.
Ms. Redell and others might find some chills at The Giving Ink by Honey Paper, the Solvang stationary store at 1607 Mission Drive.
There, a skeleton sits by a long scroll with intricate calligraphy warning crows to stay away.
So far, it isn’t working. A crow rests permanently on the skeleton’s shoulder, and two more are on the business’ overhang.
“We’re attracting more crows than repelling them, I suppose,” employee Leah Findler told the News-Press, chuckling, about the creation by owner Michelle Castle.
“I think he’s fun,” Ms. Findler said. “He hasn’t scared me yet.”
“It doesn’t mean he won’t!”
IF YOU GO
The Annual Santa Ynez Valley Scarecrow Fest and Contest continues through Oct. 31 at 100 or so businesses throughout Solvang, Buellton, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Los Alamos and Ballard. Scarecrows are outside or in windows.
Winning scarecrows from each community will be eligible for the 2019 Harvest Cup: Best in the Valley. The trophy will be presented during a ceremony on Nov. 20.
For more information, go to facebook.com/syvscarecrowfest. You also can follow the festival on Instagram at syvscarecrows. People are encouraged to use the hastag #syvscarecrows in their posts about the festival.
The festival is happening during wine and/or food events in the valley. For more information, go to www.visitsyv.com/events.