On Friday, March 14, 2013, Fairhope businesses got just what they were hoping for as the Arts and Crafts Festival kicked off to a record breaking start.
However, by Saturday things had drastically changed. Dangerous thunderstorms were forecast for Sunday, ruining all the fun and some of the city’s profits.
Darrelyn Bender, President of the Chamber of Commerce, says some venders tried to ride it out.
“We did give them the option and about a hundred tents said they wanted to stay. So we thought that we’ll have this festival even if there are only that many tents,” said Bender, “Then when the first wave of thunderstorms came through that morning, we had 5 tents severely damaged. So we decided it wasn’t worth it.”
Bender said that’s when they began packing up.
It was a disappointing end for many who rely on the festival every year.
Christine Linson has been in Fairhope for 14 years as a local artist. She said it’s toughest for the vendors on the street.
“They have accomodations and they have to dismantle booths. They have to get out of town or make a decision whether to stay,” Linson said, “The weather didn’t look good and they didn’t know until late Saturday that they should clear out.”
Businesses say they also missed out.
But Sarah Schemmer, co-owner of The Cat’s Meow, said she’s looking on the bright side.
“It impacted us and the crafters. But we had such a good day on Friday and Saturday. It was rainy on Saturday but it drew them into the shops,” said Schemmer.
Bender said the good turnout on Friday leaves her optimistic.
“We feel it will be a strong impact, even with just two days. It won’t be a record year but we still had a great festival,” Bender said.
Officials say around 300 thousand visitors turned out in 2013 with more than a million dollars going into the local economy. No word yet on 2014.