Fort Worth Main St. Arts festival kicks off despite weather, security concerns

Posted Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival

Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. today; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Artists' booths close at 8 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: Free. Food and beverages require coupons.

Getting there: Parking is available throughout downtown (www.fortworthparking.com). To avoid downtown traffic, ride the Trinity Railway Express, which will have extended service through Sunday (www.trinityrailwayexpress.org). Park-and-ride bus service is available from Billy Bob's in the Stockyards, 5-11 p.m. Friday and noon-11 p.m. Saturday. Cost is $1 each way. Bicycle parking is free at the corral at Fourth and Commerce.

Information: Find maps, booth locations and entertainment schedules at www.mainstreetartsfest.org

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FORT WORTH -- Harry Roa wrestled with a rug in booth No. 828 Wednesday morning.

For the most part, he didn't mind the warm, muggy weather that greeted artists and vendors as they began setting up for this week's Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival.

"I like the wind as long as it doesn't blow anything away," Roa said. The winds are expected to continue today as the four-day festival opens in downtown Fort Worth, but the warm temperatures will be long gone. A front is expected to move in overnight, bringing rain and cooler temperatures.

The rain, however, should be gone by the time the festival opens at 10 a.m.

Wednesday's winds, however, certainly made setting up challenging for some of the artists on hand.

Over at the Willow Brook Leather booth, between Fifth and Sixth streets, artist Joe Henderson and his helper, Caroline Koons, were catching purses, wallets and bags as they flew off display shelves and racks. Henderson, who was one of 140 artists at the first festival in 1986, expected his goods to continue to fly off shelves -- without the help of the wind.

"This is the place where you can produce really special stuff and people will buy it," he said.

A veteran of 27 festivals, the Aurora, Mo., man said other art shows are regularly plagued with bad weather, like the one in Columbus, Ohio.

But "Texas wind, we can deal with," he said. "I like Fort Worth because the people are happy, they're having fun and there's great music."

The music starts at noon each day. From country to rock to folk to blues to jazz and Latin rock, entertainment on three stages brings about 300 acts to Fort Worth's biggest festival.

Tim Gamble, a sound engineer with Eagle AVL, was directing a gang of heavily muscled men setting up a 900-pound sound board for the Bank of Texas in from of the Fort Worth Convention Center. "Wind is normal," Gamble said. "Welcome to Texas."

Food is another huge part of Main St., and it ranges from corn dogs to crawdads, turkey legs to tenderloin tamales. Beverages include smoothies, mojitos and Texas wines, along with soft drinks and beers.

But the centerpiece of the festival is art, which ranges from paintings to sculptures to jewelry to pottery. More than 1,400 artists applied for the festival, but only 208 were chosen to participate.

Besides the weather, security has been a hot topic for festival organizers in light of this week's bombings at the Boston Marathon.

The Fort Worth Police Department is deploying additional uniformed and undercover officers, as well as bomb-detecting K9 units, to areas in and around all large public events, said a city news release.

The release recommended signing up for a free service at www.nixle.com, where the Fort Worth Office of Emergency Management warns of natural or manmade emergencies in the area with texts and/or email.

Festival guests are asked to follow Homeland Security's caution: "If you see something, say something."

But because it's a free festival with 20 points of access, monitoring what people bring into it would be difficult, said spokeswoman Clair Bloxom.

"If someone saw a person leave a backpack at an artist's booth, you'd definitely want to report that to a police officer," she said. "We're encouraging people not to bring backpacks."

Guests also are asked not to bring coolers, said Jay Downie, event producer.

"If you bring a bag, keep it on your person," he said. "Any unattended bag will be confiscated."

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

Twitter: @fwstevans

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