Autumn in the Park exceeds vendors’, organizers’ expectations

By Debbie Carson, Online Editor

VERO BEACH — The 22nd annual Autumn in the Park Crafts and Artworks Festival far exceeded vendors’ and organizers’ expectations this weekend at Riverside Park in Vero Beach.

“We’ve had a nice crowd today,” said vendor Janice Johnston, of Scooter’s Barkery in Wabasso.

She added that this was her third or fourth year participating in the show and that this year’s was better than last’s. For first-time vendor Penny DiGregorio of Art and Soul Glass, it was the crowd that made all the difference for her.

“The customers actually appreciate the art,” DiGregorio said, adding that she has been to arts and crafts shows elsewhere and hear customers say that they could just buy a necklace at Wal-Mart.

She said that the patrons at the Autumn in the Park seemed to appreciate the work that went into her jewelry.

“That really makes a difference,” DiGregorio said.

She added that her sales were higher than expected, and Johnston said her sales were higher than those of last year.

Johnston said last year’s show saw many patrons, but not many purchases. She said that the economy last year had people shocked and scared – unwilling to part with money they didn’t have to spend.

“People are starting to live with it,” Johnston said of the new economic reality.

Vero Beach residents Holly Ohs and her children came out to Riverside Park Sunday to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and the arts and crafts.

“We love it,” Ohs said, adding that her family has come to Autumn in the Park for the last three years.

While the family hadn’t bought anything yet, Ohs said she expected to pick up a few Christmas presents to get an early start on the season.

“We’re very, very happy,” Treasure Coast Pilot Club member Pat Williams said of the Autumn in the Park’s turnout.

She and fellow members Wendy Freshley and Barbara Collins said that many of the first time vendors have expressed interest in coming back again next year and that the returning vendors, too, plan to come back.

Freshley noted that many visitors to the park have left carrying shopping bags, too.

“That makes me happy,” she said.

“That makes everyone happy,” Williams added.

Autumn in the Park serves as the major fund-raiser for the Pilot Club, which in turn uses the money to benefit various individuals and groups in the community.

“Everything we earn goes back to the community,” Freshley said.

This year’s gold level sponsors include: Vero Beach Firefighters Association, Indian River Estates, George E. Warren Corporation, Indian River Credit Union, Orchid Island Juice Company, The Press Journal, WQOL 103.7, BCM Storage, Perfection Paint and Body, The Little Clinic, Florida Spine, and Raymond James & Associates.

For more information about the Treasure Coast Pilot Club or the Autumn in the Park Crafts & Artworks Festival, call Barbara Peltier at (772) 562-9031 ext. 134 or visit

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