Tennessee festival goes on despite damage from storms

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HUMBOLDT, Tenn. — Violent storms across Tennessee this week threatened the West Tennessee Strawberry Festival in Humboldt. While a couple of vendors were forced to close because of damage, the event has gone on without a hitch.

Friday, thousands of people packed downtown Humboldt for the 83rd West Tennessee Strawberry Festival.

Sunny skies welcomed record crowds. It’s a stark contrast to Thursday afternoon, when a powerful storm brought trees down and winds that damaged a couple of vendors.

Fortunately, the storm hit when most festival events were over for the day.

“We had some pageants going on, but those were indoors, so luckily nothing was going on outdoors when the weather hit,” said Taylor Nicodemus.

The COVID pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s Strawberry Festival, and some were concerned a threat of severe weather Thursday would impact Humboldt’s biggest event of the year.

“I think it was definitely something that we had to watch,” Rachel Young said. “We had to keep an eye on the weather, and there were some days we were a little worried it might affect some of the events. but overall, I think it’s turned out to be a great week, and we’ve had pretty good weather.”

While the Strawberry Festival escaped any major weather damage, Harris Flowers wasn’t as fortunate.

“Right in here is ‘tornado alley’, anyway. Tornadoes come through here all the time,” Flowers said.

Flowers lives a few miles east of Humboldt and says he’s grown accustomed to keeping an “eye to the sky” when the weather turns bad. Thursday, he and his neighbors got the brunt of the storm that past over this part of Gibson County.

“It tore my roof up, tore a lot of shingles up, blowed these trees down and got my neighbor’s big tree over there . . . great big tree,” Flowers said.

Thankfully no injuries have been reported. The West Tennessee Strawberry Festival runs through Saturday.

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