“What does it take to bring a day of rain to Clay County? Three nights of rodeo.”
A line of thunderstorms that passed through Clay County Saturday night may have brought an early end to the 80th annual Pioneer Reunion and Rodeo, and left Henrietta without electricity for more than 24 hours, but gave the land a much needed drink of water.
In one of the hottest and driest years on record, the storm made for a nice break from the drought. Rain reports in Henrietta varied from 1.5 inches to more than 3 inches, enough to fill some tanks that had gone dry over the summer, and at least put some water in others. A rain Thursday night brought another inch to areas in and around Henrietta.
The storm blew into Henrietta at about 8:30 p.m., just two events into the Saturday night performance of the Pioneer Reunion Rodeo. Heavy rainfall produced by the storm dropped off in intensity at about Freddy Moore Road to the south of town, with areas below receiving about six-tenths of an inch.
Rodeo officials had been keeping an eye on a lightning storm moving through the north part of the county when the much smaller cell blew into town. Winds calmed and a soft rain started to fall, followed by strong winds, heavy rain and small hail. When the rain became to much, the rodeo was stopped and those in the grandstands scattered toward their vehicles or Pioneer Hall.
Winds were responsible for some damage in Henrietta and other parts of the county, including two downed electric transmission line on Hwy. 287 near Horton and to the west of town, causing the power outage and sporadic outages in Bellevue.
Henrietta’s electricty was restored at about 10:45 a.m. Sunday.
At the rodeo grounds, winds knocked out a window in the announcers booth, folding chairs from box seats into the livestock pens and scattered trash everywhere.
A photographer visiting from California did not make it out of the announcer’s booth in time, and road out the storm under a table. He emerged wet and shirtless, but unharmed.
As rodeo fans gathered in the Pioneer Hall, Nine Man Board member Tony Moore announced to cheers that the storm was expected to pass and the dance would start early to entertain the crowd. But, before Jay Hollis and band could take the stage, the power went out and both dance and rodeo were cancelled.