WASHINGTON, Mo. (AP) — Severe weather forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 people at the Washington Town and County Fair on Saturday night, soon after the night's headliner band had taken the stage.
Fair officials said in a news release that only one person received minor injuries at the beginning of the storm in eastern Missouri.
Fair Board spokeswoman Lynn Stewart said the decision to evacuate the crowd, many of whom were there for the REO Speedwagon concert, came after the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning that later was downgraded to a severe thunderstorm warning.
"Point blank, our official statement is that the safety of our fair-goers is our number one priority," she told The Associated Press on Sunday. "The fact that we had only one minor injury is a miracle to me."
She said it was the first time since 1995 that the fair — which she said is the state's third-largest after the Missouri State Fair and Ozark Empire Fair — had to evacuate the fairgrounds because of severe weather. As was the case Saturday night, the headliner band in 1995 played about two songs before the storm sent people scrambling for cover.