Storms Damage Fairgrounds Weeks Before Union County Fair

Published 06/05 2014 05:40PM

Updated 06/05 2014 05:49PM

We're still waiting on the National Weather Service's official report on whether a tornado touched down during last night's round of storms.  Most of the damage happened in Sturgis.

The Union County Fairgrounds were one of the harder hit parts of town, severely damaging a pavilion and several RVs. The storm came at one of the worst times, with the Union County Fair set to start there in nearly two weeks.

Instead of preparing for the Union County Fair this month, volunteers are assessing and cleaning.

"We could see the lightning flashing," says Terry Scott, a volunteer from Indiana. He was staying at the fairgrounds while building the new First Christian Church in Sturgis.  He didn't know what  had happened until another volunteer went back to camp.

"Parts of the two by fours busted through the side of the camper, there was a piece on conduit stuck up higher into the camper," he says.

Those pieces that damaged several campers, came from the decades old Hancock Pavilion.  Fair officials say the storms severely damaged the pavillion, which will likely have to be torn down. Last night's storms were so powerful that the winds picked up the posts supporting the pavilion and moved them three to four feet off their base. Union County emergency officials say several other buildings were damaged and some roads flooded.  Sturgis Mayor Tom Holt was at an event near the pavilion when the storm hit.

"We felt like we were in the pocket of the wind and the rain," Holt says.

The event he was at lost power, but he says he's glad no one lost their lives.

"We're always blessed when you have no injuries," he adds. "Any facility can come back, but when you have no human fatalities, that's a blessing."

Union county fair officials say they hope to have the clean up done by the 16th, but it depends on the insurance.

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