Postponement of picnic was biggest blow
The biggest blow delivered by the weather was the postponement of the Saturday evening picnic, which by far is the festival's biggest drawing card. The picnic was postponed to early Sunday afternoon, following the community worship service; several hundred people attended the picnic Sunday, but in the past the event has drawn up to 15,000 people, including the hundreds in groups that buy the 170 or so picnic tables.
"What was amazing was that, despite the fact we put off the picnic till Sunday, we still managed to have a good crowd Saturday night," Albright said.
He said another victim of the weather was the souvenir tent. "The showers Saturday night really hammered the tent and kept down sales of T-shirts, tapes and the other memorabilia we sell there," Albright said. He said he didn't have final sales figures but doubts that more than half of the more than 2,200 T-shirts that had been printed for this year's festival were sold.
The good news, however, is that the hot air balloon race, which had been cancelled because of poor weather conditions in recent years, was held as scheduled Friday evening at the Danville-Boyle County Airport at Junction City.
Jerry Boyd, veteran logistics staff member, estimated total attendance at this year's festival at 25,000 to 28,000, and that includes the crowd that showed up at Friday's balloon race as well as the band performances Saturday and Sunday at Centre and Weisiger Park. The record attendance for the festival is more than 40,000.
People from more than two dozen states attended
The crowd that showed up to watch 300 musicians in 17 bands perform over the weekend included people from more than two dozen states with most coming from Kentucky and neighboring states, Boyd said.
"The postponement of the Saturday night picnic really hurt our overall numbers, but I am glad we decided to hold a smaller version of it on Sunday, especially for the people who bought tables," Boyd said. "The table fee is nonrefundable; we thought we owed it to those folks to keep the tables up and hold the picnic on Sunday, even though not many (of the tables) were used."
Albright tipped his hat to the nearly 200 volunteers from the community who helped set up and tear down the festival, transport musicians and work in the souvenir tent and at other venues.
"Without the support we get from these volunteers, there wouldn't be a festival," he said.
Planning will begin in the near future for the 16th festival, said Albright.
"Our finances took a little bit of a hit with the souvenir sales being down because of the bad weather, but we'll be OK. We are definitely a go for 2005," he said.
"Come rain or shine - and unfortunately, we've had way too much of the rain - there will be a 16th annual festival."