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Watertown Cancels Festival To Clean Up From Storm

PHOTO GALLERY: Severe Weather -- July 18

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The timing of the Saturday morning storm could not be worse for the Watertown area.

The town was celebrating its annual Rails to Trails summer festival, but organizers canceled the event after surveying the damage.

Robert Jahn spent the morning packing up his Gyro and Fries food booth in downtown Watertown.

"The town's out of power and the people are all cleaning up their yards and they probably wouldn't be coming down here," Jahn said.

He was one of dozens of vendors in Watertown for the final day of the annual Rails to Trails festival. His booth weathered the storm, but others were not so lucky.

"If you looked down Main Street here, we have a lot of tents that did not make it," Rails to Trails committee chair Heather Jarvis.

Festival organizers canceled half of the day's roughly 15 scheduled events almost immediately, which included the parade.

Downed power lines and trees kept floats from traveling along the route. Organizers canceled the entire event by late morning.

"I feel a lot for the business owners and even the vendors who planned to come here," visitor Dawn Kroonblawd said.

Many homeowners in town were focused on the cleanup. They needed help removing trees and picking up property damage.

"One tree down, just messy leaves and branches, nothing major," resident Michele Barthel said.

Weather may have canceled the annual festival, but the community still found a way to come together.

"We're a very tight-knit community here," Jarvis said. "Everybody's pulling together. Everybody that was coming down for, say, the wrestling tournament, they're up cutting down trees and cleaning up."

Organizers are hoping to reschedule the annual fireworks.

The tentative plan is to hold them Sunday night, but they have not picked a location.


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