Chattanooga Market wraps up opening weekend despite strong storm - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga Market wraps up opening weekend despite strong storms

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Chattanooga Market vendors were faced with a big mess before the market opened Sunday morning. 

Thunderstorms from Saturday evening damaged several tents, tables and merchandise. 

Organizers said this is the first time in 17 seasons, that they've dealt with any storm damage during opening weekend.

"It's a little bit of a rocky start for the season," said Chris Thomas, Executive Director of the Chattanooga Market. 

About three hours after the market wrapped up its first opening night, thunderstorms rolled in. 

"There were 50 to 70 mph winds. It blew everything apart. It was amazing; very violent. We're really happy no one was here on site when it happened, because people would've been injured," said Thomas. "We had tents blow 50 to 100 feet. It got so bad we had to take shelter in the storm room. I mean it was a micro burst. It was tornado level winds, it had to have been."

Up to 30,000 people were expected to come out opening weekend. 

Thomas said 250 vendors were set up on Saturday, but about 10 percent of them were unable to return on Sunday because of the damage to their merchandise. Staff members stayed until midnight cleaning up some of the damage. 

Debbie Blinder of Full Circle Candles, has been coming to the market every Sunday for the past three years. She said she didn't realize what happened until a market staff member called her the night of the storm. 

"I went to check the weather for tomorrow, yesterday," Blinder said. "I saw the little circle. It was all red, and I was like what is going on there and then we got the call a couple hours later."
 
Strong winds crushed her tent, and shattered glass from a number of candles. 

"I was scared you know you work so hard. These vendors pull in all this work and work so hard, and the farmers," said Blinder. "So to think that things could have been all destroyed was pretty scary," said Blinder. 

Blinder said dozens of Chattanoogans and fellow market vendors ended a hand. It's what she said makes the market so special. 

"I love being a part of this people calling and people finding us tents everyone was helping everyone it was just amazing."

Those vendors who weren't able to open for business today but they will be back next week. You can join in on the weekend tradition every Sunday up until November.

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