Patty Gregory, executive director of Art on The Square, discusses weekend show, storm damage
A tree fell onto an empty car in Dupo, and winds toppled a couple of booths at Art on the Square in downtown Belleville when a storm rolled through the region Friday morning.
Belleville firefighters reported that they helped repair some knocked-over booths and helped protect artworks and displays when the storm hit. But the show was scheduled to go on for this weekend as planned.
Patty Gregory, Art on the Square’s executive director, said the show had about 65 artists that checked in early Thursday night before the storm hit Friday morning.
“We had about five tents that had some damage,” Gregory said. “But they are all professional artists — they do this all the time, all over the United States. And of course, after 16 years, Art on the Square pretty well has got this down to a science on how to deal with things like this.”
She said there were volunteers on hand Friday morning, taking down the damaged tents and putting new ones up. She said police and fire leaders also made their way down to ensure the show ran smoothly despite the weather.
“We have an emergency plan — always — in every packet that artists have,” she said. “We’ve only had to use it once, and that was probably about five or six years ago.”
Gregory said she and other show organizers are in constant contact with the weather center stationed at Scott Air Force Base.
“So I think we will have a wonderful weekend,” Gregory said. “Last year we had the same situation. ... The show opened on time, everything was great. We sold $1.5 million in artwork and once again, we were No. 1 in the nation for the sixth time.”
Lisa Foster, a painter from Portland, Ore., said her canopy survived the winds, but a part of her booth’s roof collapsed after the wind got under it.
“Fortunately I didn’t put all my work up,” she said. “I only had a few pieces up and they were actually alright.”
She said this is the farthest she’s traveled for an art show. A few of her paintings did get some water on them, but she said no damage was done.
She was hoping for better weather for the remainder of the weekend. “I hope this is the worst of it,” Foster said.
Gregory said 600 volunteers will be on hand during the event.
“I think that the emotional buy-in for the city of Belleville and the surrounding areas for what this show brings and (what) the artists bring to the community — they will be down here, rain or shine.”
Winds also knocked down power lines in the region. Ameren reported that about 6,000 customers in the metro-east were without power at one point on Friday morning. As of 11 a.m., the number was down to about 2,000 customers.
The tree in Dupo, on the property of the Apostolic Worship Center, fell on Sue and Phillip Pickerings’ vehicle, which was parked on the side of the road.
They live across the street from the church at 322 Louisa Ave.
“My wife got up to go to work,” Phillip Pickering said. “She heard a loud bang and didn’t know what it was.”
Dupo Officer Jason Cooper said no one was injured.
Village of Dupo crews arrived to trim the tree down. However, Cooper said they were going to leave the tree where it was until the Pickerings could file an insurance claim.
“I keep (cars) until I haul them to the junkyard,” Phillip said. “Looks like this one’s going a little earlier.”
In Alton, winds knocked down a tree that fell onto an Alton Memorial Ambulance on Friday morning, according to the Alton Telegraph.
The Telegraph reported the ambulance crew was handling a call when it happened, but no one in the ambulance was hurt.