TAMPA — Will the weekend cold front put a chill on some of the biggest outdoor festivals of the year?
"We're actually pretty excited about it," said Shaun Drinkard, president of the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, which draws more than 100,000 annually. "Cool weather is really a pretty nice thing to have."
A cold front will bring cool, dry air over the Tampa Bay region, with daytime highs over the weekend in the low 60s or upper 50s under mostly cloudy skies. The biggest issue may be winds, which could gust above 20 mph throughout the weekend, forecasters said.
But organizers say the blast of winter will not hurt several large events this weekend, including the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, the Bay Area Renaissance Festival at the Museum of Science and Industry and the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in downtown Tampa.
Event planners say they don't fear the cold. They welcome it.
"This is going to be a pretty positive thing," Drinkard said.
Ron Gainey, president of the Strawberry Festival, said the weather will turn up large crowds during the weekend.
"We're looking forward to some cooler temperatures," he said.
Temperatures were in the 80s during the opening of the festival last year, Gainey recalled. "It was almost too warm."
Organizers expect between 50,000 to 60,000 people to attend on Saturday and Sunday.
At the Renaissance Festival, coordinator Anna Peterson was not concerned about the cold.
"With Florida, that is a deterrent for people going to the beach," she said. "So it makes us a little bit more attractive."
Maybe, she added, coffee sales at the fair might increase.
The cold front was forecast to move into Tampa Bay on Thursday, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure, leaving behind strong winds that will shove cold air from the north into the region.
"It just kind of progressively gets cooler and cooler every hour each day," he said.
On Friday morning, lows will be in the 40s and highs in the 60s, McClure said.
On Saturday and Sunday morning, temperatures could dip into the 30s around Tampa Bay.
Highs will be in the 50s or low 60s on both days.