Organizers of Gnome Fest 2013 learned a valuable lesson in their attempt to set the Guinness world record for the most people dressed as garden gnomes in one location at one time.

"The moral of the story is don't try to plan something like this during a University of Arizona NCAA tournament game," said Todd Crawford, owner of Metro Gnome Music, where the festival was held.

The Wildcats match against Harvard left Crawford and his team with fewer than half of their intended goal of 479 garden gnomes.

Had they succeeded, they would have beaten the previous record of 478 gnomes set in Worcester, England, in 2011.

"I had a bunch of personal friends who changed their minds on coming once the game wound up being at the same time," Crawford said.

Despite the defeat, Gnome Fest coordinators plan on trying again next year.

Crawford said Gnome Fest 2014 will more than likely be held before March Madness and probably not on the same weekend as the Spring Street Fair on North Fourth Avenue.

"Both of those events took their toll," he said.

Gerald M. Gay