I am heartsick as I pause late tonight to write this. On Friday night, we opened the Brickworks Art in the Park Festival, and remained open only three hours before severe thunderstorms shut us down. Heavy, heavy rainfall took a toll on some of the artists’ booths and merchandise, and reopening this morning was a somber event for many of them. Tonight again,we were chased out of the park by severe weather at around 7:00. Once I got home, I checked the radar to find that winds were gusting up to 70 mph. This was not a simple repeat of last night. Panic shot through me, because 70 mph winds are the limit my tent is designed to handle. I rushed back to the festival grounds to find anywhere from 60-75% of the tents destroyed, tables scattered, and art work littered all over the park. My tent was intact, but I couldn’t turn around and go back home. Dozens of artists and family members were combing the grounds with flashlights, digging shattered art work out of the mud as the rain continued to come down in sheets. After a few hours, with much help from the local police and city employees, we realized that we had done all we could for one night.
Now, with my rain-soaked clothes spinning in the washing machine, I feel sick inside. My tent and art work survived, but I will never forget how heart sick I was all those times throughout the years when my art festivals were torpedoed by bad weather. It just meant taking a loss, collecting less money in sales than I paid out in rental fees for the show. And that always hurt. But I’ve never known the agony of losing my entire investment. I haven’t lost the tent, or the furniture, or the art work. Tonight I saw scatted jewelry, shattered picture frames, canvases and paper products soaked in the rain. And I saw shredded tents, bent poles, and broken furniture hurled across the park. There was a tornado warning southwest of us, and I do not yet know what exactly tore through us, but the high winds meant that over half the artists will not be there tomorrow to close out the show. And for that I feel very despondent tonight. Their work was a labor of love and it just feels so unfair to see their products wiped out in just a matter of minutes tonight.
I don’t know that I’ve posted appropriate content on this blog, but tonight I grieve for friends I’ve known for years in the art festival circuit who lost their entire inventory of original art, along with their furnishings. Tomorrow will be a sad day, walking into the park and seeing all those empty lots that were filled with laughter, conversations, and good will the past couple of days.
Thanks for reading.