Saturday, October 6, 2007

Happenings: Scarecrow Winners In, Pumpkins Out

Lombardi Ranch[1] is all dressed up and ready to work its corner of Bouquet Canyon Road. Some summer delicacies (incl. excellent tomatoes) remain, but the farm now wears the unmistakable mantle of autumn: pumpkins laid out in the hundreds, bales of hay stacked high, and a buffet of delectable farm animals penned up for the appreciating.

I thought that mastering the names of America’s domesticated fauna was a prerequisite for graduating pre-school. But just in case you were one of the kids who slipped through the cracks, the ranch provides signs labeling its menagerie. This spares parents the embarrassment of being unable to tell their children which is the chicken and which is the llama.

Even a bigger draw than the animals, however, is Scarecrow Alley. There, dozens of families and groups have staged scarecrows among the corn and sunflowers. It’s a chance for Claritans to put their creativity on display and possibly take home some of the $3,700 in cash prizes offered by the ranch. The results of September 30th’s judging are now in.

Taking first place for the 10 & Under category was the entry entitled “Howling at the Moon.” As you can see, it’s a post-modern meditation on the ultimate fate of humanity. Bravely, the artists have depicted people as they really are: sacks of burlap stuffed with straw, T.S. Eliot's proverbial Hollow Men. Two souls are shown ascending not to heaven but to a dark lunar abyss. Meanwhile, an earthbound figure sits slumped in hopeless apathy, flanked by two black dogs—clear allegories of death. The only traces of humanity that remain are blood-red hand prints hung like ornaments in a tree, feeble shadows of hollow lives. Life, mankind, and the world are voids; all is emptiness. I hope these 10 & Unders are in the gifted art program.

The effort taking first place for the 11 – 17 category was decidedly cheerier. Perhaps this had to do with the fact that it was commissioned by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Unfortunately, the picture came out blurry, but it was beach/surfing themed.

First place for the 18 & Older category was a punny take on “Deal or No Deal” entitled “Meal or No Meal” pictured below. Howie Mandel has never looked better.

The Grand Prize was an homage to family—how Claritan, no? Fully fifteen scarecrows were arranged as if ready for a multi-generational family portrait. It's clear that a lot of work went into this and it's all very well done with the black-and-white photos, mix of personalities, etc... Despite a heart-warming theme and comic touches, however, this entry also featured the two most unbelievably frightening scarecrows in the whole scarecrow circuit.

Grand-prize winner with terrifying detail below. (Olsen twins?)

Lombardi Ranch has scaled up their autumn efforts this year. This included hosting the Saugus High School band[2], offering wagon rides, face-painting, popcorn vending... All of this is fine, but I hope Lombardi's stops short of becoming a full-fledged autumn carnival. After all, part of the charm of Lombardi Ranch lies in its ability to make use smile at the simple things… this.
[1]You can call Lombardi Ranch at 661.296.8697. It's located in Saugus at 29527 Bouquet Canyon Road.
[2]They were quite good. Various other bands are banding throughout October; a schedule of weekend events is here.


Anonymous said...

...and now it's gone.

A Santa Claritan said...

Actually it's not. I believe they're reopening tomorrow to sell pumpkins and the rest of their ususal fall harvest. There was damage on the property,but the whole place didn't burn down.