A stormy forecast is top of mind for organizers at Fort Worth's Mayfest, which begins Thursday at Trinity Park.
Past years have taught mayfest officials some hard lessons about handling severe weather during the annual festival. They take the weather and any potential severe storms very seriously.
"We're doing table top scenarios for various weather situations that might come up to be certain we are using all of our first responders to have a very quick, safe orderly evacuation of the festival grounds if needed,” said organizer Elizabeth Basham.
The crowd at Mayfest in 1995 got swept up in an intense hail storm that caught all of Fort Worth by surprise. About 100 people were injured in one of the most notorious weather incidents in North Texas history.
The event has come a long way since then with assistance from the Office of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service. There are also storm watchers on the festival grounds.
“Because it's so detailed and through and has been honed since 1995, this is a plan used as a model for other outdoor events,” Basham said.
Mayfest organizers can empty the park in 30 to 40 minutes before severe weather arrives. People can also follow Mayfest on social media to get immediate information on weather or delays and closings.
“On a very quick timeline, need to follow us on Twitter, follow us on Facebook if you want up to date information,” Basham said. “The utmost important aspect out of all this is for the safety and security of our patrons, vendors and for all the people that are working the festival."
Mayfest opens at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and some rain is expected. If the weather doesn't cause too much disruption, Mayfest expects about 200,000 people over its four-day run.