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Pierce County Fair open despite storm damage

The Island Noodles food stand at the Pierce County Fairgrounds was a mess after a storm ripped through Ellsworth Wednesday night. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)1 / 10
A tent near the Ptacek's IGA food stand in the carnival midway section at the Pierce County Fair was tipped over in last night's storm. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)2 / 10
This large tree was snapped off near the Pierce County fairgrounds Maple Street entrance in Wednesday night's storm. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)3 / 10
A tent near the Pierce County Snowmobile Clubs stand was knocked over in Wednesday night's storm. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)4 / 10
A branch wasn't kind to this tent set up in the vendors section at the Pierce County Fairgrounds Thursday morning. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)5 / 10
A pile of tables, tents and debris marked this stand at the Pierce County Fairgrounds early Thursday morning. Crews are in the process of cleaning up. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)6 / 10
This downed tree near Zion Covenant Church was in the process of being cut up Thursday morning in Ellsworth. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)7 / 10
Gary and Trudy Young think a lightning strike took down this tree in their front yard on Grove Street in Ellsworth. Gary was unable to get out of his driveway to go to work thanks to the big tree on his truck. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)8 / 10
Another view of the downed tree on Gary Young's truck in Ellsworth. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)9 / 10
This tree and storm debris was blocking North Grant Street early Thursday morning in Ellsworth, near one of the fairgrounds entrances. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)10 / 10

UPDATE -- Pierce County Fair manager Ann Webb posted this update on the fair Facebook page concerning parking:

"Parking at the Fairgrounds is VERY limited and at this time full. Use the Shuttle Service that is new this year. We are adding a pick up location for today at the Ellsworth High School rear parking lot. Today's service is free. There will be a continuous loop from the EHS lot to the Grounds. We are OPEN! Carnival is OPEN!"

The shuttle service will also be offered noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday with four pickup locations:  Ellsworth High School parking lot, Zion Covenant Church, Hubber Field and Pierce County Office Building parking lot.

Tonight's Gopher State Garden Tractor Pull, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., has been cancelled due to muddy conditions at the grandstand.

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ELLSWORTH -- The Pierce County Fair will open today on schedule, despite having to clean up from last night’s storm.

A severe thunderstorm dumped anywhere from 2-5 inches of rain in Pierce County, accompanied by lightning and strong winds.

According to NWS totals from Wednesday, 3.21 inches of rain was reported in the Baldwin area, and 2.82 in rural River Falls.

The Prescott-Hastings area measured just under 3 inches Wednesday, while about 2.75 reportedly fell at Lock and Dam No. 3 near Red Wing.

Pierce County Fair manager Ann Webb said the carnival will be open today, as well as all the other attractions. No buildings were damaged last night; however, downed trees and tipped over tents are being cleaned up this morning.

The only entrance open is the North Entrance off Cairns Street until further notice. Downed trees were blocking the Maple Street entrance (near the car wash) and the Grant Street area. Crews were cleaning it up early this morning. The back grandstand gate near the water tower is closed until further notice.

Parking will be limited to the north gravel lot today due to the saturated ground, so prepare accordingly, Webb said.

Groundskeeper Matt Kelly said while power was out in much of Ellsworth, the fairgrounds never lost power. As of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, 217 Xcel Energy customers in Ellsworth were without power.

One carnival worker said she has been up since 3:30 a.m.

"There was no way I could sleep through all of that," she said of the storm that ripped through the area. "The wind was insane. We could hear things whipping past us."

Crews around Ellsworth are working to restore power this morning; a total on the number of households affected was not immediately available.

Webb said the weather for this weekend is supposed to be beautiful.

“We are open,” she said. “Come on down.”

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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