A forecast, issued by the National Weather Service in Jackson, has the Golden Triangle under an enhanced risk for severe weather. The Cotton District Arts Festival in Starkville has been canceled due to the threat.
April 13, 2019 9:00:38 AM
The threat of severe weather has canceled this year's Cotton District Arts Festival.
The Starkville Area Arts Council announced the cancellation in an early Saturday morning social media posting.
SAAC Director John Bateman told The Dispatch the decision came after prolonged discussions with the National Weather Service. As the forecast for Saturday's weather worsened, SAAC decided to cancel.
"With the lightning and thunder this morning and expected through noon, we decided to make the call," he said. "Unfortunately, there is no indoor alternative. We're disappointed, but we wanted to put public safety first."
The National Weather Service released a forecast on Saturday that warned of a higher risk for severe weather in the area than earlier in the week.
The Golden Triangle, according to the forecast, is under an enhanced risk for severe weather, which is higher than the slight risk it was under earlier in the week. Central and southeast Mississippi were placed under a moderate risk for severe weather.
John Moore, a forecaster with the NWS in Jackson, said storms are expected to pass through Starkville during the morning, but no severe weather is expected with them. He said winds are expected to remain gusty throughout the day, reaching speeds of up to 30-40 miles per hour.
Moore said the greatest severe weather threat is expected in the evening, after sunset.
"The main threat is going to be tornadoes in the area, with damaging winds up to 70 miles per hour also a threat," Moore said. "You could also see some large hail with that, and can't count out some flash flooding."
Mississippi State University Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations Leah Beasley said much of the university's schedule for Super Bulldog Weekend remained, as of Saturday morning, as initially planned. However, she said the university moved the start time of MSU's baseball game against Alabama up to 1 p.m., instead of its originally-planned 3 p.m. start time. The change puts the baseball game and Maroon/White spring football game at the same time.
Bateman said the Cotton District Arts Festival's juried art exhibit will go on as planned, in MSU's Visual Arts Center on University Drive, with an extension set for the Greater Starkville Development Partnership building on Main Street.
He also pointed out that's logistically nearly impossible to move the festival to another day or weekend.
"There's a festival every weekend, and a lot of artists plan their circuit in advance," Bateman said. "We would lose a lot of our artists.
"That's the risk we face with an outdoor festival, and we've been lucky" he later added. "As we were discussing the decision, as far as anyone could remember, we've only had two cancellations before due to inclement weather."
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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