Flagler County, FL – It was a banner weekend for Flagler Broadcasting after taking the helm of the annual Creekside Festival for Flagler County.
The arts, culture and heritage festival has long been a signature event for the northeast Florida region and after picking up the mantle to continue the event, Creekside took on an additional component this year with the addition of a charitable cause.
The voice of David Ayres, vice president and general manager of Flagler Broadcasting, was overflowing with emotion on Sunday night as he announced the event had met it’s goal to raise $20,000 for the Grace Community Food Pantry, overseen by Pastor Charles Silano, coming in with a $22,500 total.
“The (former) chamber of commerce had asked us to keep this great event alive and we did, with the goal of taking it to the next level, and giving back to the community,” said Ayres. “This year our goal was to raise over $20,000 for the Grace Community Food Bank to feed our community for the upcoming holidays. Pastor Silano said if we can get him $20,000 he can turn that into $100,000 of food for our families in need here,” he said.
With a deep love for the community, Ayers was overjoyed to know that through the buying power of the partners Pastor Silano works with to run the weekly food bank, the dollars would be multiplied to stretch further and help feed Flagler’s families, not just during the holiday but throughout the year.
“The thing is with the food bank, this is for everybody. This isn’t just for people that are starving or homeless, this is for working class people who are having trouble making ends meet, to make their lives better for their family. A lot of the people who are deserving of this free food don’t utilize it. It’s there for them,” said Ayres.
Speaking with Pastor Silano on Sunday evening, he was speechless at the announcement but quickly began to process how great the community’s support had been over the weekend.
“I was just stunned,” shared Silano, who in addition to the 6,500 families a month served by the Grace Community Food Pantry, is already working on Team Feed Flagler efforts for the holiday season with a price tag close to $40,000.
Silano says their work has been impacted by inflation, rising food costs and a reduction in food donations from grocers to food banks.
“It was just amazing and it comes at a needed time, of course, during this time of year but what an amazing event he pulled together,” he said.
“It’s just a great contribution for us to have the funds to do what we do. I’m just so thrilled. I go to work and do what I do, and then something like this happens and it makes you realize wow, there’s a lot of people who know about us, and having this impact that we’re able to do as a 100 percent volunteer effort is very rewarding. We live in such an incredible community.”
Work & Play: Delving Into the Fun
The weekend itself was a much needed opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy coming together at the Princess Place Preserve. The pristine historic location was carefully tended by Flagler County’s parks and recreation department to prepare for the big event, and Ayres was impressed by their efforts.
“The county crews worked so hard. They have such pride in Princess Place, and the guys who work out there, trimming, keeping the road good. The pride that the county staff has out here is like I’ve never seen before, and we’ve done a lot of events over the last 13 years,” said Ayres. “This is the most remarkable and rewarding event that Flagler Broadcasting has ever done.”
With more than 100 vendors and exhibitors on site, displays ranged from artisans and demonstrations to civic organizations and businesses, connecting them to thousands of festival attendees during the two-day event.
Involved in a number of organizations, real estate broker Kathy Austrino was out with the TAG Ventures Real Estate team to talk about the hot real estate market in Flagler County while catching up with friends and colleagues at the festival.
“Creekside Festival was a fantastic event for this business owner,” shared Austrino enthusiastically.
“Multiple folks came to our booth specifically looking to talk with us, mentioning our commercials on WNZF and Kool FM. As well, we always enjoy the camaraderie with the vendors, helping each other, getting to know each other better and how we can continue to work uplifting each other’s businesses. There’s nothing better. We met both local folks and out-of-state folks enjoying the festival and we look forward to helping them buy and sell their homes,” she said.
Creekside was also a chance to serve a dual purpose for Cindy Kiel Evans, co-owner of Jeff Evans State Farm. With grandkids of her own, Evans said their agency, a participant in the festival for nearly a decade, was excited to sponsor the Kids’ Zone alongside Beaver Toyota and offer free entertainment to families, along with important information.
“We wanted to separate ourselves from all the other businesses by focusing on families who are in need of insurance as well as life insurance protection with young kids. Sponsoring the kids’ zone gave us a great chance to really meet young families as well as grandparents there, who were very receptive to us as their possible new Good Neighbor agency,” shared Evans.
It was also an opportunity to promote fire safety, something Evans is passionate about, after spearheading the fundraising effort “Hoods for Heroes”, to provide safety gear to local firefighters in 2019.
“When I thought about what giveaways we could offer to attract the kids and families to our booth, I realized it was Fire Prevention Week and I could get State Farm fire hats and Sparky the Fire Dog coloring books to give the kids to encourage thinking about fire safety,” she said.
“I then thought what better partnership than to get the Palm Coast Fire Department to bring a fire truck and their firemen there to park next to our tent and give the kids a chance to sit behind the driver’s seat! The Department was wonderful, sending them along with some junior volunteers to help with the kids. All went well, the kids loved the hats, the information about fire safety went in bags for the parents, and the kids had a ball,” declared Evans.
But the kids weren’t the only ones enjoying the entertainment.
The event’s redesigned layout ensured there was plenty of all day shade for concertgoers to relax and enjoy a full lineup of music including blues man Anthony Wild, Those Guys, and Slickwood, with country start Pryor & Lee closing out the show on Sunday.
One of the duo’s biggest fans, Joyce Connolly made a point to see them perform at Creekside.
“I remember having Kaleb and The Voice parties at Cork and Pint in the European Village. My friend Deb Deville and I voted for him every week,” said Connolly of the former Ormond Beach singer.
“I got to meet him in 2019 (at) Creekside and he was (an) amazing guy. His voice is amazing and he got together with Pryor Baird. Pryor Baird and Kaleb Lee first met in 2018 as contestants on Season 14 of The Voice and I have been following them since. These guys are very good, their family life is very important to them and they really know how to treat their fans. Pryor and Lee are a great duo.”
A Cause Bigger Than Your Own
So much more than just another event, Ayres and the Flagler Broadcasting team see Creekside as a reuniting of community and a carrying on of a Flagler County tradition.
“It really was an awesome event and I worked both days. Everybody who came through the gate, I was there and we moved a lot of people through, and they were happy,” said Tricia Woods, CFO for Flagler Broadcasting, proudly.
“I think what we wanted to do with this festival was draw attention to what a great organization and what a great guy Pastor Silano is and his hard work for the Grace Community Food Bank, and we want everybody to enjoy the holidays without going hungry. We met our goal and he’s thrilled with it,” said Ayres.
“For everybody that came out, it was just beautiful. We were blessed with great weather Saturday and Sunday. A lot of people, for the first time after COVID, came out to an outdoor environment, felt very safe, and it was just a beautiful event for a great community and a great cause.”