Scaring up a good time

Pie in the Sky and Simple Gestures host the 2016 Great American Scarecrow Festival


Pie in the Sky and Simple Gestures partnered again this year for The Great American Scarecrow Festival held Saturday, Oct. 22.

Billed as an old-fashioned gathering and held at Simple Gestures in St. Augustine, the fall festival featured apple bobbing, face painting, pumpkin painting and live music by Lonesome Bert & the Skinny Lizards.

Festival-goers had the opportunity to bring with them old clothes, a hat and a pillow case or t-shirt to learn how to make scarecrows, with hay provided for the scarecrow stuffing.

A raffle and silent auction were also part of the day’s festivities. Pork sandwiches, bean burgers and Pie in the Sky pies were for sale at the event.

Proceeds from the annual event benefited Pie in the Sky, an organization that provides fresh produce, healthy foods and other resources to low-income residents in the Hastings area. Specifically, proceeds from this year’s festival were earmarked for Pie in the Sky’s new senior program.

Pie in the Sky partnered with the Council on Aging to identify seniors on the COA’s Meals on Wheels waiting list who were interested in getting fresh produce delivered to their home. When the senior program began, there were 12 names on the list; now there are 85.

“There are over 4,000 low-income senior citizens in St. Johns County that are food insecure, so 85 is a drop in a bucket,” Pie in the Sky Director Malea Guiriba said.

The organization hopes to grow the all-volunteer program because there’s simply a lot of need, she said. The program provides food to low-income senior citizens throughout St. Johns County, but the vast majority of the seniors live in St. Augustine. It costs the organization about $30 a month, or $1 a day, to provide produce to a low-income senior.

“We try to give things that are healthy, that have a lot of vitamins and nutrients that a low-income senior needs,” she said. “We’ve gotten a tremendous response from the seniors we deliver to, saying they wouldn’t be able to buy this at the store because it’s too expensive.”

The Great American Scarecrow Festival has been held annually at Simple Gestures since Pie in the Sky was founded in 2009. A second fundraiser, “It’s for the Birds,” is held in the spring. Local artists decorate bird houses with proceeds from the sales going to Pie in the Sky.

“We’re small, but we do a lot and we get a lot done with a little, and Simple Gestures has just been the best partner we could ever hope for because they have such deep ties to the community of artists and musicians,” Guiriba said.

“Lonesome Bert & the Skinny Lizards have volunteered their time every year, twice a year for us – they’re always there to play music,” she continued. “It’s a great support network of folks in St. Augustine that allows us to be able to do this.”