Officials announced early Thursday that the 35th Annual Destin Seafood Festival would be canceled because of a tropical storm threatening the Emerald Coast.
Jim Green, chairman of the festival this year, said planners waited until the last forecast was published Thursday morning to indefinitely cancel this weekend's festival.
“Rain does not scare us. If it was just a rain storm we’d press on, but this is tropical conditions,” Green said. “We can’t subject our vendors, patrons and property owners to that; it’s something we have to take into consideration.
“This decision has made me physically sick.”
Green said officials with the festival have spent the morning calling the 100 vendors scheduled to attend the event and have posted notices on their website, Facebook page and on Twitter that the event has been canceled thanks to Tropical Storm Karen.
“This is the first time we’ve encountered weather like this,” Green said. “From my recollection, its the first time in the festival’s history. This has consumed our volunteer’s lives for the last 10 months.”
The National Weather Service on Thursday released details on the storm, which has put the Gulf Coast under a hurricane watch for the weekend. A hurricane watch means a storm could hit within the next 48 hours.
Destin Mayor Sam Seevers said the economic impact of the cancellation will have an effect on Destin and Northwest Florida.
“This is a huge deal,” Seevers said. “I can only applaud those that are in charge of the seafood festival for making the call fairly early. ... The impact is going to be big, though. We have hundreds of thousands of people who come here every year.”
Green said that the festival likely will not be rescheduled. He said there’s almost a year of planning and coordination put into the festival each year.
“It takes us almost 10 months to get to where we are now,” he said. “At this time we have no means of rescheduling it with over 100 vendors.
“We’re not sure where to go from here. We’ve never had to deal with a hurricane showing up on our doorstep the weekend of the festival.”