A scarecrow is displayed on the roof sign of the Orange Inn, which is part the Chamber of Commerce's Scarecrow Fest and Contest. (Don Leach, Coastline Pilot / October 17, 2013)

Scarecrows have popped up in true fall fashion at more than 20 Laguna Beach businesses but not in an effort to scare off crop-eating birds.

The scarecrows — like the skeletal Bride of Frankenstein that sits in front of The Vintage Poster — are entries in the city's first Scarecrow Fest and Contest, sponsored by the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce.

"Since we do original antique posters, our takeoff is from the 'Bride of Frankenstein,'" said Gary Gibson, owner of The Vintage Poster.

The plastic skeleton dressed in a wedding gown, which sits in front of his store, was inspired by a reproduction of the classic movie poster that hangs in the front display window.

The contest began Oct. 1, and residents can vote for their favorite scarecrows through Oct. 25. The categories include most Laguna Beach, best use of natural materials, most humorous, best use of recycled materials, best business theme, spookiest, most artistic and best action scarecrow.

"The people that have come in said they really appreciate it because it gives everyone a chance to participate," said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kristine Thalman.

She said the contest was inspired by a trip to Solvang and is intended to promote local businesses during the off-season.

Ellie Ortiz, owner of Laguna Beach Legal, a document-preparation and mediation service, decorated the Lady Justice that sits in her display window with autumnal colors and dubbed her Scarecrow Justice.

"We really want to win this," Ortiz said of the best business theme category.

Paul Greer, owner of Spice Merchants, created a child scarecrow with eyes of star anise and a nose and mouth made of chili peppers. His design was inspired by his wares, and the child scarecrow is standing in front of wagon containing a small herb garden.

Twenty-four businesses are on the ballot, but any of a number of other participating stores can be written in, Thalman said. Ballots may be dropped in boxes at participating businesses. The winner will be announced on Oct. 27.

Voters can download a ballot and map of the participating businesses at http://www.lagunabeachchamber.org.