Sunday, June 19, 2011

Storm Slams Asheville Art in the Park

It was the worst case situation. A strong line of thunderstorms came in quickly and hard and hit the event with 60+ MPH winds. I was in the back of the B line when I noticed the back of the line of tents was about to fly away with vendors struggling to hold on to their tents to keep them on the ground. I held on to the upwind side of of the B line but the wind pushed so strong I was pushed backwards several feet before regaining my footing. I finally managed to pull the pins out on my side and get the tent to drop down letting the forceful wind to pass overhead instead of slamming into the tent.

When the winds finally calmed down, the square was total chaos. Tops were torn from tents, whole tents with weights were lifted up and smashed to the ground, one with a vendor still holding on and product was blown away or smashed to bits. A few of our potters lost everything that had at the show. Thankfully no one was majorly injured.

The amazing part is what came next. Artists started helping each other pick up the pieces. Seeing the devastation I changed the donation requirement at the show and started collecting for the artists that had seen the most damage. In the devastation I transferred several hundred dollars donated from the artists least affected to the most affected. Many artists gave more then the suggested 10% of sales.

As I helped clean up the huge mess created by the gusting wind, I saw artists that had just lost everything picking up trash in the street and helping other artists. The integrity and passion these artists have continuously blows me away and I am honored to be part of this community.

I hope you will come out to Asheville Art in the Park in Pack Square for our final June event on Saturday the 25th from 10 - 5 and support these great local artists as they recover from this disaster.

Mountain Xpress video coverage ->

If you have stories from the event, please share them on our group page here->

1 comment:

Koriander said...

I had just thrown most of my inventory hastily into bins, when the storm cell hit. As I noted our canopy starting to lift off the ground, even with a total of 80 lbs. of ballast, my first thought was to keep it from blowing into other areas where it could do damage to artists and their goods. I attempted to hold onto the front section to no avail. The pipes buckled. The canopy and wire grids came down on my back. I felt myself getting scraped and cut and things were crashing and blowing around.

Within moments, Art in the Park's violent, uninvited visitor leveled several booths. The grass and pavement were a shambles of display parts, misplaced inventory, and sad, shattered pieces of what had been beautiful art and goods.

For some of us artists, it was all we could do to try to effect some damage control as the ferocious wind tore through and the rain set in. As the winds abated, those who were not as severely affected walked around, offering their assistance, gathering up and recovering inventory and display pieces for other artists.

Through it all, Andrew, our festival organizer, never quit offering his assistance to everyone.

I have always said, "Anyone can sail a ship. But if you can steer it in a storm and you can find ways to create momentum even when the wind dies back, that is a sign of gifted management."

I am so deeply impressed by the sincere concern and assistance given throughout by Andrew Montrie and all of the artists who were part of our unnerving experience this past Saturday. I am deeply inspired by the attention given to every individual, so grateful we're all safe n' sound, and proud to be part of such an amazing community.