Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Art Shows Gone Wild - Boston Mills Artfest 2005

This is the first in what I hope is a series of artist submitted weather stories from outdoor art festivals in the past few years. Barbara Kline, wrote about Boston Mills Art Fest 2005 in Ohio after she read about this past weekend's early end to the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival Sunday due to weather.

"For extreme weather stories, I'll always have Boston Mills. As I headed to the Gala Event at 3:00 PM, scattered storms were reported on the radio. Once I reached the show the large parking lot was flooded with water and I had to park at the far end on higher ground. The show takes place at a ski resort in Boston Mills, OH, outside of Akron. I managed to get to the lobby of the building only to find people watching the water rise outside the locked doors flooding the tents of the art show.

The show was set up in three tents at the foot of the ski mountain and next to a small, mostly dry creek. Lightning struck a tree which blocked the creek and sent the water rushing through the art show tents. The only way out to my booth was to go upstairs in the ski building and down the outside stairs to the show. When I stepped off the bottom step into the water it was nearly waist deep. Pushing through water and past floating garbage such as oil drums, branches, and wet critters with beady eyes which washed up from the creek. Car alarms were going off from new cars that were on display for the gala evening. Wine bottles and food were floating by. Potted plants and yes, art. Many art vans in the parking lot had water over their wheel wells and more alarms were beeping and then failing when the water covered the system.

I finally made it to the North Tent which was a shambles. Booths were knocked over by the torrent of water. Mud and branches were everywhere. I went into my booth and tried to pick art off the walls and put it on top of a table that had not fallen over yet. Walls were trying to fall in from the crush of water and art floating in the current. Other artists were in the tent attempting to rescue their art. A beautiful inlaid wooden jewelry booth across the aisle was in shambles. The big tent over head was bulging with water pools and the poles were wavering. Tubs of art were spilled into the muddy torrent. Credit card machines and just about anything you can think of floated by. A group of artists rescued a case of wine, brought some of the shrimp plate out to the tent and were making the best of a bad situation. Borrowing glasses from glass and clay booths provided holders for the wine.

Eventually the rain slowed and the water began to subside leaving the mud caked carnage visible. Noticing the mud building up, I began sweeping the water as it subsided out of my booth in hopes of finding the rug on the ground. It worked. I was able to have a somewhat dry spot in an otherwise mud filled mess. I emptied the water from the bins of art and sorted through my art and other art which floated into my booth.The show did open without me the next day at noon with a few booths remaining and the North tent emptied to other locations. My next show was Cherry Creek and I had some work to do cleaning the booth, etc., if I were going to salvage the next show.

Okay, Steve, that is my one story. I also have the Storm of the Century in New Smyrna Beach, FL, several years ago. Artist tents floating in the intercoastal waterway with weights attached. My booth and four others survived that mess. And on and on it goes.

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