Artisans lure a large weekend crowd at Autumn in the Park

VERO BEACH — Several thousand people were expected to pour into Riverside Park in Vero Beach Saturday for the 24th annual Autumn in the Park Arts and Crafts Fair, hosted by the Treasure Coast Pilot Club. The two-day show continues Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking and admission are free.

Approximately 125 vendors presented an assortment of quality crafts, from intricate jewelry and artwork to wooding carvings and lawn ornaments.

Monies raised by the Pilot Club at Autumn in the Park fund a number of civic projects including

Project Lifesaver in Indian River County, a program used to track and locate lost individuals. People at risk of wandering are given a bracelet with a radio transmitter which can be used by law enforcement to track them if the need arises. Funding from the Treasure Coast Pilot Club, local businesses and other donors, ensure that the bracelets and monthly battery changes are provided at no cost to county residents.

“They were instrumental in starting it up and have been a huge supporter of Project Lifesaver ever since,” said Sandra Larson, who was manning the Alzheimer & Parkinson Association booth at the front entrance.

The Treasure Coast Pilot Club was formed in 1979 after it broke off from the Vero Beach Pilot Club, what they now fondly refer to as the “mother club,” which was originally formed in 1956.

“We’re a community service organization,” said Phyllis Lembo. “Autumn in the Park affords us a way to give money to our community service projects; our plans of work.”

The group provides five scholarships, and each year also recognizes two Vero Beach ROTC participants monetarily. Its members participate in other fundraising events, such as Relay for Life, Special Equestrians and Juvenile Diabetes.

“We have 36 members, and we all have a job to do for this,” said Lembo, adding that husbands who help out at the event are called their co-pilots. “They are all active in one way, shape or form. It takes team work most of the year.”

The show features primarily 3-dimensional items, offered by juried vendors.

“Everything must be hand-made by artisans and they must man the booths,” said Barb Peltier, the event’s vendor coordinator. “We’ll see people coming in all through the day. They’ll be back tomorrow, especially if the weather is this good. Somebody blessed us with the weather.”

A steady stream of visitors wandered all throughout the park, attracted by ideal weather and the chance to get a jump on some holiday shopping.

While the show offers principally what you would expect from an arts and crafts fair – jewelry, accessories, artwork, clothing and soaps, there were a few unusual items, including plant containers made from Hypertufa, an artificial stone composite, and some authentic post office lock boxes transformed into banks.

“It’s a good show for us,” said Vero Beach jeweler Sherry Wilson, a show participant the past three years. “Once juried, you’re always juried so a lot of the same vendors come back year after year. They treat us nicely too.”

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