This year's St. Patrick's Day Downtown Street Festival had some unexpected changes. Due to the weather that day, there were last minute decisions that were made and ended up with the headlining bands playing inside the Iron Horse Pub instead of outside on the main stage as originally intended.

After the festival, there were many people who were not happy with the changes and voiced their concerns with Downtown Proud and on their facebook page.

Yesterday, Downtown Proud addressed the situation with this statement posted on facebook:

Last Saturday, we had a great event planned for our annual St. Patrick's Day Festival in Downtown Wichita Falls. This festival and every event Downtown is designed to highlight a historic and unique place in our local culture.

These events take months of planning and a combined community effort to pull off. We were sorry so many fans did not get to see Blue October or Cody Canada perform. This event was designed to bring talent to our city and attract visitors from all over. We had guests from as far away as Ireland, Nebraska, Missouri and other parts of the country. Several thousand people made the trip Downtown, and we were happy we were able to share the love of music that brought us all together.

Behind the scenes, our committee was doing everything in our power to get Blue October to play outdoors. Ultimately, they decided they would not perform in any capacity on the outdoor stage, due to weather reports they were getting locally and from radars on their phones.

We still had to pay all the entertainment in full and after much demand for something to go ahead, Martin Byrnes from Ireland, along with local rockers AA Bottom and Miyagi decided they would take on the risk of playing even with unpredictable conditions.

We had committee volunteers that were soaked, some who were simply in tears for the fans. With schedules changing rapidly, we had to make tough choices to move ahead as safely and quickly as possible. We had close to 200 volunteers from our military forces at Sheppard Air Force base, MSU Nursing Team, MSU Rugby Team, Wichita Falls Police Citizens Academy, and the Boys and Girls club - just to name a few. These volunteers spent their entire day working in the rain with hopes of pulling off a great event. We also had a committee of volunteers who worked for months preparing for St. Patrick's Day. We had a final planning meeting Wednesday, and there was no chance of bad weather. By Friday evening, rain was in our forecast. No one on our committee expected we would get hit with such a large storm, one that dropped an incredible amount of rain in such a short period.

It is hard to blame Mother Nature; we need all the rain we can get right now. It is unfortunate it came on that particular evening, and threw a major curve ball at the event.
We decided to eliminate much of our kids’ area when the rain continued. We thought it was safer to do so. We lost food vendors, and specialty vendors were washed out. Other nonprofits that raise money at this event lost the opportunity to make revenue for their causes. We worked closely with law enforcement and numerous other folks behind the scenes who were giving direction. It seemed like every decision we made was challenged by rain, electrical issues or equipment that got ruined.

At the end of the day, we stretched every single resource we had to capacity. Everyone was safe at the event and we did our very best. We learned some valuable lessons along the way. We are a group of dedicated volunteers who want to do our best and promote our great city. We have amazing sponsors who support a downtown trying to make a comeback in unique way. We have fans who have supported for many years, and friends that came to lend a hand when things were at their worst on Saturday night. Most of all, we are very sorry and saddened for the fans who did not get to see all of the bands, especially our younger fans.

We are thankful for the patience and love so many people have shown. The committees for all of our events are run by volunteers from all walks of life. Please contact us if you would like to be part of what we do, and want to add something special to the way we do it.

Again, we send our apologies from our non-profit organizations Downtown Wichita Falls Development and Visions of North Texas. Our members do their best putting on outdoor events, but as we have seen so often lately, Mother Nature can ruin even the most well organized events.

Ireland is well known for its' rain, perhaps the Patron Saint Patrick was sending us some help in his own special way.

Obviously, they could not have anticipated the weather situation that happened that day, and in the future will have a better contingency plan in place.

If you were one of the people disappointed with this year's event, does this make it better?  Will you still plan to attend next year's festival?