Chilly weather, wind gusts delay start of IMAGES Art Fest in New Smyrna Beach on Saturday

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — Unusually cold weather and forecasts of strong wind gusts forced the organizers of the 46th annual IMAGES Art Festival here to delay the event’s opening by two hours on Saturday morning.

The IMAGES Art Festival in downtown New Smyrna Beach finally opened at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to run through 5 p.m. on Saturday. Nance Koch, the event’s coordinator, said she expects to be able to open on time Sunday when the final day of the three-day festival is set to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Only one time in my 15 years (as coordinator) we had to close one day because of rain, but no, we’ve never delayed it before,” she said. “Today is very cold.”

The temperature in downtown New Smyrna Beach at 9 a.m. was 43 degrees, but the wind gusts made it feel like it was in the low 30s as several festival workers could be seen trying to put back blown-down road barriers and signs.

Koch said strong winds Friday night blew down some of the exhibitors’ tents, which prompted the rare decision to postpone the start time of the event on Saturday with more gusts forecast in the morning.

A bundled-up woman walks her dog in front of the information booth for the IMAGES Art Festival before the delayed opening of the event on Saturday. The event continues today in downtown New Smyrna Beach from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A bundled-up woman walks her dog in front of the information booth for the IMAGES Art Festival before the delayed opening of the event on Saturday. The event continues today in downtown New Smyrna Beach from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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An art exhibitor gets her tent ready for the delayed opening of the IMAGES Art Festival in downtown New Smyrna Beach on Saturday.

An art exhibitor gets her tent ready for the delayed opening of the IMAGES Art Festival in downtown New Smyrna Beach on Saturday.

‘I feel like I’m back in Buffalo’

Carolyn Glapinski, a volunteer with the First United Methodist Church, just a few blocks away from the festival, was bundled up with a wool cap, a heavy winter coat with the collar turned up and gloves as she held up a sign advertising available spaces in the church parking lot on the corner of Douglas and Live Oak Streets. The church is renting out parking spaces in the lot for $5 per vehicle to raise money to pay for a new roof.

“I feel like I’m back in Buffalo,” said Glapinski who now lives in Edgewater after relocating to Florida in 2006 from western New York state. “It must be the old blood in me.”

Art photographers Jason and Beth Stoddart of Cookville, Tennessee, took the delay in stride as they sipped cups of hot coffee while strolling the festival site.

“It’s 15 degrees where we’re from so this is good for us,” said Beth Stoddart. “It’s not raining and the sun’s out. They have a coffee vendor here so that’s a plus.”

Jason Stoddart said he and his wife exhibit and sell their photos at festivals throughout the country.

“This is nothing,” he said of the cold weather and gusting wind.

Beth Stoddart added, “We’ve been at shows where there’s been tornadoes so it could be worse.”

After the festival opened, Linda Bellefleur of New Smyrna Beach, was also trying to stay warm.

“It’s amazing every year, but this year it’s amazingly cool, both literally and figuratively,” she said.

Waiting in line for a hot cup of chai latte, she added, “We’re going to try and see as much as we can, then head home and warm up.”

Area could see freezing temperatures overnight

Volusia County could see wide freezing temperatures overnight, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne. A hard freeze warning is in effect for inland Volusia County and northern Lake County while a freeze warning is in effect for the rest of east Central Florida.

The temperature in the Daytona Beach area is forecast to fall as low as 27 degrees around 5 a.m. Sunday, but could rise to the high 50s in the afternoon. Wind gusts were around 20 mph shortly after noon on Saturday, but were forecast to die down. Wind gusts are expected to be minimal on Sunday. Sunny skies are also expected for Sunday.

Festival runs through Sunday

Nance Koch, coordinator of the IMAGES Art Festival in downtown New Smyrna Beach, says despite the high winds and cold temperatures, the festival will go on Sunday.

Nance Koch, coordinator of the IMAGES Art Festival in downtown New Smyrna Beach, says despite the high winds and cold temperatures, the festival will go on Sunday.

The IMAGES Art Festival features exhibits by 200 artists from throughout the country as well as live music, food trucks, a beer and wine garden, a tent displaying artwork by students from local schools and a children’s art tent where free art projects are given out for kids to do at home.

The festival takes place along a seven-block stretch that includes portions of Canal Street as well as Riverside Drive along the city’s Riverside Park.

The juried art event awards $27,500 in cash prizes for the artists including a top prize of $6,000. The artworks on display include paintings, ceramics, digital art, jewelry, mixed media, photography and sculptures.

The event was not held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival in January 2020 drew more than 50,000 people and was ranked the 16th best art festival in the nation, according to Koch.

“It was pretty good (Friday) even though it started out a little bit rainy,” said Koch of the turnout on the festival’s opening day. “Not sure how many people were here, but it was crowded. I think the artists did well yesterday.”

Koch expressed her hope that attendance will be strong for the remainder of the festival.

“Well, it’s cold. We’ll see how Floridians come out. Hopefully they will,” she said on Saturday morning. “We have 200 great artists. Please come out and support these artists. This is a tough life and they are troupers.”

IF YOU GO

WHAT: 46th annual IMAGES: A Festival of the Arts

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today

WHERE: Riverside Drive and Canal Street in downtown New Smyrna Beach

COST: Free

FOR MORE INFORMATION: imagesartfestival.org or call 386-423-4733

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Chilly weather, wind gusts delay start of IMAGES Fest in NSB on Sat.

Robert G. Mull

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