How many gnomes does it take to fill the parking lot of a music business on East Speedway?
Organizers of the second annual Gnome Fest hope to find out Saturday.
Todd Crawford, owner of Metro Gnome Music where the fest is being held, wants to set the record this weekend for the largest gathering of people dressed as garden gnomes in one place at one time.
If successful, it will be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The current record, according to the Guinness website, was set by 478 people in Worcester, England in 2011, as part of a fundraiser for the charity BBC Children in Need.
The initial intent of Gnome Fest when it was launched last year, Crawford said, was to showcase local bands in a family friendly environment.
It wasn't until people showed up to the festivities in homemade gnomes hats that Crawford started thinking about the record-breaking possibilities.
He imagined getting into the record books would be easy.
But he soon found out that the officials at Guinness don't mess around.
"We thought all we would have to do is flash some gnome hats," Crawford said. "They ended up sending us 45 pages of rules and regulations. It was definitely more involved."
Crawford was surprised to discover that if they wanted a Guinness official to come and oversee the event, they had to pay upwards of $8,000.
That was a no-go.
Instead, they went with Option B.
Two local timekeepers with experience timing swim meets have been recruited to make sure the gnome gathering reaches its required 5-minute mark.
There will be an auditor to oversee the entire event and one steward for every 50 gnomes in attendance.
The event will be videotaped to make sure no funny business happens and all gnomes are required to be in an enclosed space, a fenced-in area that Crawford is calling the gnome pen, during the process.
Then there is the garb. The Guinness rules are surprisingly specific when it comes to gnome attire.
Men are required to wear a collared shirt and vest or brightly colored tunic and belt, along with a beard.
Women may wear a solid-colored or patterned dress with an apron or a shirt and skirt with suspenders.
Both sets have to have pointed hats and boots.
Crawford has more than 500 gnome hats, which he purchased in bulk online and is selling for $5 apiece, with $2 going to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. He also has beards for $2.
"I'm more concerned with the boots," Crawford said. "A lot of people don't naturally wear or own boots. That is going to be the biggest challenge."
In addition to breaking the gnome record, which will get started at around 3:30 p.m., there will be a gnome pet contest in the morning, a syrup eating contest and a bevy of local bands performing throughout the day, including the Bad News Blues Band, Kool Shades and Ronstadt Generations y los Tucsonenses.
The fest will include prize giveaways and Crawford was even hoping to get a little Harlem Shake action on tape after the record is set.
"It should be a unique challenge," he said.
If you go
• What: Metro Gnome Music's Gnome Fest 2013.
• When: 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Metro Gnome Music, 4044 E. Speedway.
• Tickets: Free.
• Info: 320-3780.
• World Record: Metro Gnome will attempt to beat the world record for most people dressed as garden gnomes in one place at one time during the festival. Participants should gather at 3:30 p.m. Men are required to wear a collared shirt and vest or brightly colored tunic and belt, along with a beard, boots and pointed hat. Women are required to wear a solid colored or patterned dress with an apron or a shirt and skirt with suspenders, also with boots and a pointed hat. Metro Gnome is selling pointed hats for $5 apiece, with $2 going to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Beards are $2.
Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-8430