Wind damage to booths and a severe weather forecast prompted organizers of the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival to cancel the final day of the event Sunday, the first time in recent memory that the 29-year-old event was shut down for a full day, officials said.
“Some booths were damaged by winds between 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday and a decision was made at 9:30 a.m. to close the festival,” Main St. spokeswoman Claire Bloxom Armstrong said Sunday.
Meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth reported gusts of 35 to 40 mph Sunday morning. A wind advisory was in effect until 8 p.m. Sunday.
“This is not a decision we take lightly,” Jay Downie, events director of Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives, said Sunday in a news release. “Our number one priority is the safety of all who are involved. We hope everyone stays home and stays safe.”
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Light rain also fell downtown, and the potential for strong thunderstorms was in the forecast for Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth. The biggest threat was large hail and damaging winds, but forecasters said the potential existed for tornadoes. A tornado watch was in effect until midnight for most of North Texas.
Several vendors who were packing Sunday afternoon agreed with the decision to close down.
“It’s better to save our artwork and our lives,” said Greg Rhoads of Marquette, Kan. “I’ve had a good three days, so it was a good decision to close it down.”
Clifton Henri of Chicago agreed.
“It’s been awesome here,” Henri said as he packed his photographs from his booth on Sundance Square Plaza. “This is my second show in Fort Worth and I agree with the decision to close.”
Chances for rain chances were 100 percent Sunday and 40 percent Sunday night.
Officials said the festival has occasionally been shut down early, but none of the organizers could remember a whole day being canceled.
By today, North Texans needed coats again. A cold front arrived overnight, bringing chilly weather today and near-freezing temperatures Tuesday morning for Tarrant County. Forecasters say temperatures will be below freezing in counties northwest of Fort Worth.
“It’s unusual to see freezing temperatures this late,” meteorologist Jesse Moore said Sunday at the weather service office in Fort Worth. Alliance Airport could see 33 degrees Tuesday morning, and the low at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport might be 36, the weather service said.
The previous latest freezes for the area occurred April 13 in 1957 (30 degrees) and 1997 (32 degrees), Moore said.
The record low for April 15 is 33 degrees in 1928, according to National Weather Service records.
Forecasters are not calling for any precipitation Monday or Tuesday for Tarrant County.