Farm Talk

Front page stories

August 8, 2013

It’s raining, it’s pouring; The county fair is flooding

Parsons, Kansas — At 1:40 a.m., Tuesday, July 30, Greg Scott, Hepler, Kansas, received a phone call telling him his camper trailer was in danger of being flooded.

In the 20 minutes it took Scott to get to the Crawford County Fairgrounds, Girard, Kan., the water was over two feet deep. Scott and others worked the early morning hours trying to pull out any camper trailers they could.

The same phone call didn’t make it to Brian Crapson, Walnut, Kan., until 2:30 a.m., telling him his camper was unable to be moved. After the water receded late Tuesday morning, Crapson realized his camper was totaled.

“Everything was so swelled up. The doors wouldn’t open and every time I’d take a step, water would squish up,” Crapson said.

Luckily the Crapson family was able to borrow a relatives camper for the remaining of the fair week.

According to Wildcat District 4-H and Youth Development Extension Agent Jim Mengarelli, flooding occurs on the fairground when more than four inches of rain is received — more than seven reportedly fell Monday night.

“Nobody was hurt physically, no one lost their lives — only material things were lost,” Mengarelli said, adding it’s estimated around 20 camper trailers received flood damage, a number which would have been much higher if it wasn’t for those who helped move campers to safety.

The Chase County Fairgrounds, Cottonwood Falls, Kan., was safe from flooding, but not the surrounding area. After receiving steady rain, on Monday, July 29, creeks and the Cottonwood River were flooding the area. While many welcomed the needed moisture, the fear of not being able to get 4-H projects to the county fair struck some 4-H families.

Landry and Lilly Hinkson, Cottonwood Falls, cattle projects were at the family ranch several miles outside of town when water started rising. Monday night, water over the road was not crossable, but by Tuesday’s afternoon beef check-in, they were able to get their cattle out.

“I was really worried,” Landry said. “We just kept waiting until the water went down.” Adding that her family checked the water several times.

More rain caused the water to rise again, threatening the dairy show on Wednesday morning. All the county dairy projects come from a local dairy near Cedar Point, about 18 miles southeast of the fairgrounds. Ria Vos, owner of the dairy, brought heifers to the fair a day before the show, so the kids could present their projects, and then went back home so she could still milk her cows if it flooded. If she couldn’t return the next morning, Shelby McElfresh, Americus, Kan., was left in charge.

“I had to make sure they were all washed, cleaned, haltered and everyone knew what was going on and when they were showing,” the 14-year-old McElfresh said.

Luckily, the water had lowered enough that Vos could make it to the show to help her.

“I didn’t get to show my big cow since we didn’t know if Ria could make it to town,” McElfresh said. “But it turned out really good. I was surprised how well the cows acted.”

The Labette County Fair, Oswego, Kan., managed to get through the week without any major problems. According to Fair Board  Treasurer Steve McKinzie, Altamont, Kan., mud and moving campgrounds to avoid flooding were the biggest concerns.

“The inconveniences of the mud has been our biggest problem,” McKinzie said. “It’s great on animals, but hard on a show.”

“We’ve been fortunate and certainly aren’t going to complain” he added about the much needed moisture. “We just started hauling gravel.”

McKinzie’s positive attitude toward the rain is similar to many. A year ago counties in the Midwest were being declared federal disaster areas because of extreme drought conditions. Now ponds are full, creeks are running and grass is still green in the late summer months.

Other than a break in the drought, the rain showed how people will come together to get through. In each area, people lent a helping hand to neighbors, county workers hauled in gravel and as Mengarelli said, there have been a lot of jokes.  

“As with anything, people pull together and work together as things come,” concluded Mengarelli. £

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