Hundreds of scarecrows will descend on Grand Canyon Caverns this month as part of the attraction's first Scarecrow Festival.
The scarecrows will inhabit the buildings at the caverns, as well as the roads and trails within the 800 acres of land around the caverns.
"It will probably pleasantly surprise, and we hope only mildly scare people, when they turn a corner and there they are," said John McEnulty, one of the owners and managing partner of the caverns.
The idea for the Scarecrow Festival came to McEnulty after he saw a similar festival near his home in central California.
"I hadn't seen one over in our area at all and it's just such an amusing thing," he said. "It just makes everybody smile."
Businesses and individuals are encouraged to create scarecrows to display during the festival and bring them to the caverns any time during October.
"You can really do anything you want," McEnulty said. "The ones we've already received, a lot of them are very interesting and some of them are very hilarious and some are very zany, and a few are a little scary, but all in good fun."
Entrants will receive breakfast or lunch for two at the caverns' restaurant.
Attending the festival is free, and visitors can vote for their favorite scarecrows in different categories, including most artistic, funniest and scariest. Ballots are available at the front desk of the motel. The winners will receive prizes such as a stay in the cavern suites or passes for other local attractions.
On Oct. 26 and 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Grand Canyon Caverns will offer several freebies, including face painting, harvest apples, apple cider, Halloween candy and a pumpkin patch. Also on those days, kids can take a cavern tour for free with a paying adult.
"Our goal was to have it be a real kid-friendly adventure two days," he said.
The Scarecrow Festival will be on display throughout October, and possibly later depending on the weather.
McEnulty hopes to make the event an annual tradition with more people creating scarecrows each year.
"It just brings such joy to people of all ages, because I don't think there's anything more inventive than just the average person's creative mind and what they can make out of things just laying around their house or their property," he said.
Grand Canyon Caverns is at mile marker 115 on Route 66 in Peach Springs, Ariz. More information is available at (928) 422-3223 or www.grandcanyoncaverns.com.