VENICE — For the first time in years, the Sun Fiesta had to deal with a decidedly stormy morning — affecting three longtime traditions and damaging some vendor tents.
Tropical Storm Nestor started pushing through the Gulf Coast late Friday night, causing tornadoes from Cape Coral to Lakeland — including an apparent waterspout off Venice Municipal Airport about 3:40 a.m. Saturday.
The annual tradition of Sun Fiesta in Venice took a fiscal — and physical — hit from the storm front.
Officials with Women’s Sertoma Club of Venice and Sertoma Club of Venice said Friday it was the first time in a long time that weather had such a negative impact on Sun Fiesta — although reality of the storms lasted about 18 hours.
Attendees were able to enjoy much of Friday evening and most of Saturday afternoon and night — along with all of Sunday.
“The turnout Saturday morning wasn’t great,” Women’s Sertoma Club of Venice President Edie Lomason said.
Along with needing to cancel the annual Sun Fiesta parade and bed races, one band was nixed and the Miss Sun Fiesta competition was moved to a church on Saturday morning.
The large tent used for the food and drinks was closed until mid-afternoon in an abundance of caution after winds swept through the area. It opened up about 3 p.m. Saturday.
“We probably have taken a financial hit but I don’t know how much. But that’s it,” Lomason said, noting she wasn’t complaining.
“I’m not upset,” she said. “I’m happy with everybody that came out Saturday evening and Sunday evening. Some of the vendors who came out Sunday did real well.”
She said it was apparent early — very early — Saturday that the day was going to be a bit of a challenge. She said all 43 members of the Women’s Sertoma Club received the tornado warning texts and didn’t go back to bed that day.
“We were probably all up from 3 a.m. on on Saturday,” she said. “But we were all in good spirits.”
While that apparent waterspout caused tornado warnings from North Port through Nokomis, it dissipated as it hit shallow water and no damage was reported from it.
Tropical Storm Nestor kicked up winds and waves at Venice Beach along with other area beaches and waterways. The Venice Jetty walkway was closed from Saturday until Sunday afternoon.
Lomason said it helped to hear from people who stopped by the Sun Fiesta, saying they heard “mostly compliments.”
“People were so kind. I think everybody knows how much engery goes into it and we really appreciated that.”
While Sertoma will wrap up its books on this Sun Fiesta, Lomason said the group is already looking at Sun Fiesta 2020.