Cleanup taking place Friday morning at Country Stampede
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Cleanup crews were hard at work Friday morning after strong winds blew over tents and toppled fences at the Kicker Country Stampede at Heartland Motorsports Park in south Topeka.
Heartland Motorsports Park owner Chris Payne said winds of up to 70 mph blew through the area for about 45 minutes, from around 3:15 to 4 a.m. Friday.
Payne said the rain was “blowing sideways” during the early-morning storm.
Some vendors’ tents were partially collapsed and at least one smaller canopy had been turned onto its top.
A number of smaller tents on the site also had been reported to have been blown over at Heartland Motorsports Park, located just east of S.W. 77th and Topeka Boulevard.
Concerns over severe weather and spectator safety prompted the cancellation of the Riley Green concert on Thursday night at the Country Stampede. Green was the headliner of Thursday night’s show.
Dusty Nichols, director of Shawnee County Emergency Management, said he supported the Stampede’s decision to end Thursday night’s program with lightning in the area.
Nichols said “life safety is always primary” and that the distance needed to get people -- particularly large crowds -- to safety is a major consideration.
“We don’t want to wait until the warning comes out and then try to move people,” Nichols said, “especially when we’re talking about thousands of people. So, I totally support the Stampede’s decision, and hopefully we don’t have to do it again.
“I know it’s really frustrating when you’re trying to see a show, especially after the year we’ve had. We want to enjoy ourselves, and then having to deal with this is a little bit more frustrating. But, better safe than sorry.”
High winds early Friday also caused damage and power outages at other locations across Topeka and Shawnee County.
There were no immediate reports of injuries associated with the storm.
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