UPDATE 6/28/13 @ 10:25 p.m.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- People at the Point Pleasant Regatta are crossing their fingers that the weather won’t be a repeat of last year.
The derecho that tore through the region last year (June 29, 2012) caused enough damage to shut the regatta shut down a day early.
As Ryan Grady tied bags of cotton candy and watched raindrops start to fall, the derecho was on his mind.
“With this rain, I’m thinking we’re going to have a repeat. It’s going to be like last year,” Grady said. “We got warned that there was going to be 60 mile-per-hour winds and stuff like that, so I started taking down things that might blow away.”
Last year on the second day of the regatta, vendors and visitors alike had to run for cover with just minutes warning when the derecho came through. No one was hurt, but businesses and vendors took a financial hit.
“We're a totally free event, so we rely on donations and sponsorships from our vendors,” Jacob Hill, chairman of the regatta, said. “Last year, it hurt to have to pay for some music acts that we didn't get to have.”
Grady said he more or less broke even last year.
“Actually, we came out probably $3 ahead,” he said, laughing.
Not everyone was that lucky. Hill said one vendor who was selling souvenirs lost $30,000 of merchandise. Another food vendor, Michael Miller, said he lost some money as well.
“We had Thursday night’s business in, but I had product ordered for Friday and Saturday,” Miller said. “We was going to have a good day for Friday and Saturday. Had some really good entertainment both nights.”
Many are hopeful this weekend’s regatta won’t end up like last year’s.
“If I saw it coming, I’d be packing everything up,” Grady said. “There wouldn’t be nothing left out here.”
“I actually pulled it up on my phone on WSAZ NewsChannel 3 radar and looked and seen it was just a little tiny glitch,” Miller said of the quick burst of rain that started Friday evening. “This ain’t going to amount to much.”
Hill says because the regatta is a free event, the money they raise goes back into a fund for the next regatta. So while they lost money last year in some ways, the organizers were able to raise money for this year’s event.
The regatta runs through Saturday at Riverfront Park and Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Point Pleasant, W.Va.
Jacob Hill, the chairman of the Regatta, tells WSAZ.com that there was a lot of damage in the area.
Hill says a sternwheeler was hit by a boat and sank in the river, the stage was destroyed and there were several trees down.
The fireworks are also canceled.
Saturday was the final day of the Regatta.