ST. PETERSBURG — With its rain-or-shine policy, the Mainsail Arts Festival in the downtown waterfront's Vinoy Park was going on despite predictions of bad weather throughout the weekend.
The outdoor festival, in its 37th year, can draw up to 100,000 people over two days. It seemed to dodge a big bullet on Saturday after forecasters predicted heavy rains throughout the day. At least they held off until mid afternoon.
Lisa Wells, longtime volunteer chairman, said that until 3 p.m., when Mainsail shut down due to rain and high winds three hours early, artists reported stronger-than-usual sales.
"I think patrons felt an urgency to buy because they didn't know what the weather would do," she said. "And 9 to 3 is a good part of the day."
The early closure meant that judge Cameron Kitchin, director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, couldn't get to all the artists' booths on Saturday. So the announcement of the winners of more than $50,000 in prize money, usually released before Mainsail opens Sunday morning, was also delayed to give him time to return to the show and finish his review.
John Mascoll, a Safety Harbor artist who creates wood vessels, took the $10,000 Best of Mainsail prize.
Winning Awards of Excellence and $1,500 were Holly Hambrick, mixed media; Laurie Coppedge, photography; Mary McFarland, fibers; Renee Dinauer, sculpture; and Peggy Furlin, watercolors.
For a complete list of winners, go to mainsailartsfestival.org.
A few scattered showers on Sunday morning kept visitors scuttling for shelter or breaking out umbrellas, but didn't halt a crowd that continued to come and go. Organizers, who don't keep attendance records, said it was probably not as large as some years, but still very good.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at (727) 893-8293 or email@example.com.