By Larry Nunley, Festival Director
On Wednesday, May 29th the festival grounds in Skiatook Oklahoma were beautiful. The new stage prop resembling a log cabin was decorated and ready to go, all banners and directional signs were in place, and campers were rolling in.
Then the rains came! Nearly seven inches came down late that night and into the early morning. The flooding started about 6:00AM on May 30, the start of the usual two-day festival. Two things were on our minds: get all the campers out safely, and call the bands to cancel.
We got the campers out with no problem and the bands were very understanding. It was absolutely the right call because there was another round of severe thunderstorms Thursday night and tornado warnings all around on Friday night. Saturday was beautiful but the grounds were a muddy mess. Check out “Tallgrass Music Festival” Facebook for photos of the flood.
After the flood waters receded and the urgency of the matter calmed, the Skiatook Bluegrass Association had a “what do we do now?” meeting. We decided to host a free benefit concert in Central Park located in downtown Skiatook. We felt it was very important to honor our sponsors, the City of Skiatook, and our festival fans.
We had the concert on June 23, 2013. The legendary Bryon Berline was our featured band. We also had local television celebrities passing around rubber boots for donations which collected over $2000!.
Lesson learned: Always have a “plan B.” Hopefully, we will never experience this again, but rest assured, next year (June 5-7, 2014) we will have alternate camping and performance locations. Thanks for everyone’s support—Tallgrass is alive and well!