A Mighty Wind: A Photo Recap of My Time at the 2011 Halifax Art Festival

This past weekend, the 2011 Halifax Art Festival was held on Beach Street in Daytona. I was invited to join a table with the Florida Writers Association and sell my books, and since I’d never participated in an art festival before, I thought it was worth a shot. I wish I had more time away from our table to walk around, because there was some extraordinary artwork being displayed along Beach Street, between Bay Street and Orange Avenue. Quite a stretch. Aside from art, there were book and jewelry sellers, food vendors, and live music.

Chairperson, Doreen Armstrong, was kind enough to find us an extra tent, since we didn’t have one for our tables and Saturday was turning out to be quite a windy day. There was no way we could’ve kept our handouts, business cards, brochures, and lighter books from blowing away without it.

It was a cool, breezy, and overcast day. The strong winds weren’t supposed to come until the afternoon, but they crashed the party almost as soon as the festival started, only increasing in strength throughout the day. We had gusts up to 30 mph. Since we had to keep the sides of our tent down to protect our products, we were like a sailboat caught in gail force winds. My co-leader for the Palm Coast Chapter of the FWA, Michael Ray King, and I were forced to hold the tent down, so it wouldn’t blow away and roll into our neighbors’ tents, leaving a path of destruction that we would ultimately be blamed for.

We kept making jokes that a major gust was going to blow us into the air like Mary Poppins. Not only did we have to hold the tent down, we had to hold the tent together!! The leg started to buckle and break after being hit be a series of strong gusts.

All four corners of the locking post (above) begin to tear. The struggle to keep the tent up and lack of traffic (I think we were a source of amusement more than anything) drove me to the beer vendors, where I found me some Guinness (below.)  

About mid-afternoon, wind conditions only because worse, and Mike and I realized that to save the tent, we’d have to roll up the sides and back of the tent…which also meant that we’d pretty much have to pack up everything except for some of our heavier books. Our two tent mates, author Mary Custureri and her writer friend, Lynn, decided to call it a day. Mike and I followed soon after, but not before what little was left of my double-Guinness was blown over by the wind and drenched one of my copies of Flight From Fear.

Sunday morning was supposed to be warmer, sunnier, and not nearly as windy. Mike and I were curious if our tent had survived the night. We arrived to this:

The left front leg — the one I was holding up on Saturday — completely snapped in half and the right front leg was about to break. We’d be tentless on Sunday. I helped the festival’s crew to tear down the tent and move it from harm’s way.

It actually worked out for the best. Sunday was a beautiful day and Mike and I moved our table onto the sidewalk. We were right there with the people traffic and got the interaction that we had missed the day before.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay very long on Sunday and had to leave before 2:00. It wasn’t the ideal book selling venue, but it was quite an experience. And I did get to network with some talented writers that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. A writer in the tent next to us, Kathleen Beales, was selling her debut novel, A Return to Innocence, which is a tale of self-discovery that I’m excited to read.

Regardless of the venue or weather, there’s always something positive to gain from the adventure. However, next time I’ll be looking for an indoor event!

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4 Responses to A Mighty Wind: A Photo Recap of My Time at the 2011 Halifax Art Festival

  1. Jack Owen says:

    HaHa…been there!
    After the inaugural International Book Festival in Miami XX years ago; following a downpour soggy Satuday night in the down town canyons, we (Florida Antiquarian Booksellers) insisted on a solid, covered building or we’d pull out en masse. It worked and the limited space is the jewel of the show (mid-November’ish).
    Books and water don’t mix.
    Books and coffee aaarggh.
    Books and booze…l’chaim!

    • Jeff Swesky says:

      I went to last year’s Book Fest in Miami, and the weather was perfect. Usually November is fairly safe down there….it’s the summers that are especially brutal with suffocating humidity and violet storms. But there are no guarantees either way, are there? Is the indoor space you’re talking about where the presentations take place? I didn’t get to check everything out while down there unfortunately.

  2. Donna Sweksy says:

    Ha, ha!! Good story! Sorry the weather didn’t cooperate!

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