Storms disrupt annual Grainger County Tomato Festival

RUTLEDGE (WATE) – Storms passing through the area caused some problems at the Grainger County Tomato Festival.

Shane Pierce, co-owner of Pierce Farms, was one of hundreds enjoying the festival before having to make a dash for shelter. Fortunately, he was able to save his produce with tarp.

“There was tents blowing. I was dodging them on the four-wheeler. We had to take zip ties and tie it on, that way the wind wouldn’t blow it in and the water wouldn’t get through,” said Pierce.\

Related story: Tomato-lovers to unite in Grainger County for annual festival

The summer storm tore through others’ tents. Crafts vendor Debbie Reed says it was one of the scariest things she’s ever been through.

Storms passing through the area caused some problems at the Grainger County Tomato Festival.
Storms passing through the area caused some problems at the Grainger County Tomato Festival.

“We didn’t have time to do anything; We were grabbing the tent literally to keep it from blowing off. It was horrible,” she said.

Now she’s left picking up the pieces. After the storm, lots of people left – even farmers – but these two vendors say they’re going to make the most out of what turned out to be a bad day for business.

“We’re coming back. We’re strong, and we’re not going to give up. We’re not quitters,” said Reed.

“I’m hoping for better tomorrow,” said Pierce.

The festival continues Saturday at 9 a.m. There will be live music, children’s activities, dancing and art shows.

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