Friday morning we loaded the van with the booth and supplies and I drove while Dave and a friend cycled in front of me. We experienced really high winds all the way and once at the site, the Elroy Fairgrounds, we struggled to put up the event booth and materials. Saturday arrived clear and sunny but by noon the sky was completely gray. I was in a grocery store/gift shop/restaurant building when darkness fell and tornado sirens blew. So I followed the herd into the concrete walled 'back room' of the market. You know the place where deliveries are made and milk is stored, etc. It was packed with shoppers, grocery clerks with hairnets and people evacuated from the restaurant who brought their plates of food with them. During the 20 minutes or so we were there a beer distributor made a delivery while a tornado moved through the area. It didn't touch down anywhere near but it sent rain and damaging micro-burst winds. Meanwhile Dave was about 20 miles away where the wind blew through the fairgrounds, leveling tents, vendor displays and sending a piece of concrete through a van window (a handicapped woman was sitting up front but luckily the window broke in the rear). It was still dark and rainy when I started to drive back to where we were staying and eventually to get to Dave but several times I ran through brown water pouring over roads. Scary...
Earlier that morning I had purchased flowers from an Amish farmer and saw foals, lambs and calves grazing and frolicking. Being situated in a bucolic rural area, our motel was a nice respite from our daily apartment life. We could hear cows mooing across the street but after the storm they were up to their armpits in water in just a few minutes. I witnessed them trying to swim to safety through the trees and onto the hill next to the pasture. This scene duplicated itself on many farms for miles around us.
Sadly this motorcycle event, only in its second year, was a miserable disappointment for those putting it on and for the few who attended. I was really glad to safely get home to Minnesota and pry my stiff fingers from around the steering wheel. I now have gained an even greater respect for the tenuousness of rural life and for the tenacity of farmers in general.
Rochester, Minnesota area on the way home
Foo the 6 week old bunny belonging to one of the vendors. He was one of the bright spots in the weekend.