Springfest organizers prepare for severe weather threat

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC-TV) - A strong chance of severe weather cause event organizers across the Mid-South to change or cancel plans Friday afternoon.

The carnival ride 'Nemesis 360' was ready for riders Friday at Southaven's Springfest. But the real nemesis at Snowden Grove Park in Southaven was the possibility of severe weather.

"It's just a great time, and we're just gonna try and do what we can in between the rain and hope for not anything too too severe," said Kristi Faulkner, one of Springfest's organizers.

More than 50,000 people are expected Springfest this weekend, an event described by organizers as a carnival, a concert series and the site of the Mississippi State Championship barbecue contest.  

"We have 69 teams this year, which is a record," Faulkner said.

Despite the forecast, barbecue teams spent Friday dressing their hogs and firing up their smokers.  

"We've learned the precautions you have to take whenever inclement weather is coming, so we have our contingency plan," said Shawn Courts of the "Got Pig?" barbeque team.

Southaven Mayor Greg Davis said rain alone would not shut down the festival, but hail and high winds could force an evacuation.  

"First, it will be voluntary," Davis said. "Now, once we get, if there's tornadic activity, or something of that nature, it will be a mandatory evacuation."

Davis said any evacuations would begin in Springfest's carnival area, where the tallest structures in the park are located.  They would pose the greatest risk of injury if they fell down.

Organizers said all they could do was wait and watch the weather, and hope it doesn't turn a fun-filled weekend upside down.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.