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Nest Fest brings flocks of color to Oakhurst neighbors

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Nest Fest brings flocks of color to Oakhurst neighbors

Woody Jones, one of the creators of Nest Fest, stands in his yard on W. Benson Street. Jones joked, “When you get to a certain age, no one cares if you fill up your yard with art. You have a certain creative license.” All photos by Logan C. Ritchie.
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By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor

Decatur, GA — Late afternoon on the front porch at Jill Kirchgatter’s house in Oakhurst, I joined neighbors to talk about the first Nest Fest – a homegrown celebration of Earth Week that is both family-friendly and socially distanced. Going on now, Nest Fest runs until April 23 when organizers plan to give away prizes from a drawing.

By encouraging neighbors to decorate their front yards with birds, Kirchgatter said she hopes kids are inspired to conserve and protect the Earth while learning about birding and habitat exploration. Details can be found on the Nest Fest website designed by Betsy Eppes, an artist and educator, with links to bird-building projects and birding sites. 

Kirchgatter, Eppes, a self-proclaimed bird nerd, and Woody Jones, a folk artist, are the brains behind Nest Fest. They call themselves a rag-tag group of people looking for fun.  

“We would like our neighbors to get together and have a good time. It’s sort of a slow moving street party,” said Jones. 

It was a sunny day in late winter when Kirchgatter and Jones started talking about Nest Fest. 

“People are going to start getting out again, and walking up and down the street. ‘Let’s give them something fun to do, we thought,’” Jones said, adding that he misses attending art shows since the pandemic caused the cancelation of festivals.  

Flyers went on neighbor’s mailboxes to advertise Nest Fest in March. Then Jones made 75 little wooden birds for neighbors, and Kirchgatter kept them on her porch to pick up. Kirchgatter said the day she set out a box of Jones’ birds excited kids appeared, having been waiting for them. 

“It’s been fun to see who’s participating, and the different creative things people are doing,” said Kirchgatter. 

Dr. Tim Watts’ yard is full of giant, blow-up rubber duckies. Watts is an internal medicine doctor with an office on W. Hill Street.

Jones made 75 wooden birds for neighbors to decorate. This one is displayed in a front yard on W. Hill Street.

In the front yard of Kirchgatter’s house, a Nest Fest sign is displayed next to a bird made by Jones.

In a yard full of bluebird boxes built by her husband, Bill, Eppes was excited to display this colorful bird made by Jones. She said, “Twenty years ago I rarely saw bluebirds in the neighborhood. Now they’re here throughout the winter.”

A bright pink flamingo watches over the porch of a house on S. McDonough Street. The flamingo is made from recycled materials.

Next door to the flamingo, Nest Fest participants made a tin can owl. It hangs in the tree out front.

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