The impending weather this coming weekend could bring an end to a three-decade run for the Mount Airy Fall Festival.
Ben Gue, president of the Mount Airy's Lions Club and member of the Mount Airy fire company's auxiliary, as well as the organizer of the event, said Wednesday they have not made a decision to call off the two-day event and are expecting to make this determination sometime midday Friday. Though the event was advertised as rain or shine, the expected showers could wash away these plans.
"We have never canceled in all these years," Gue said. "We are listening to the radios, so we aren't really sure. If it turns into a hurricane, we could make the decision to cancel. But if it is just a little rain, that's not going to hurt anyone — it's the wind we are scared of."
Tropical Storm Joaquin was in fact upgraded to a hurricane Wednesday morning and was upgraded to a Category 2 storm in the evening before quickly being upgraded again to Category 3.
Kevin Witt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Virginia, said they are expecting Hurricane Joaquin to reach the Mid-Atlantic area after moving through the Bahamas.
"But whether it makes landfall, stays out to sea or remains a hurricane, there is a lot of uncertainty," Witt said.
The worst-case scenario, he said, is if Joaquin reaches the coast along Virginia's border as a hurricane late Friday or Saturday morning, and proceeds to drop 10 inches of rain, causing mass flooding. However, Joaquin could just as easily move away from the coast, resulting in just 2 inches of rainfall, he said. Residents in Carroll County can most likely expect between two and three batches of heavy rainfall over the weekend with sporadic showers in between, Witt said.
If the Lion's Club and the fire company's auxiliary choose to go forward with the festival, it will take place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Mount Airy fire company's carnival grounds.
For more than 20 years the event was held in downtown Mount Airy, but the growth of the event forced organizers to find a larger location, Gue said.
"Downtown, we could only have about 60 to 70 vendors and we were turning people down," he said. "So that is why we moved, to accommodate more vendors."
The event will have 150 vendors this year, including a mix of arts and crafts, and multiple carnival-style food providers, Gue said.
Artisan vendors are charged $75 per 10-square-foot space, and food vendors are charged $150. All money raised from vendor fees will be used to cover the cost of putting on the event, Gue said, and the remainder will be split evenly between the Lion's Club and the auxiliary for their various needs and projects.
Because admission is free, it is difficult to predict the number of visitors, and the uncertainty regarding the weather will impact the turnout, Gue said.
"If it's a pretty weekend, it could be between 5,000 to 8,000, but any time you do something on the outside it's all weather related," he said.
If you go:
What: 2015 Mount Airy Fall Festival
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4
Where: Mount Airy fire company's carnival grounds, located at the intersection of Md. 27 and Twin Arch Road, Mount Airy
Cost: Free admission
More information: Contact Ben Gue at 301-829-2112 or email email@example.com