Thunderstorms drop in on Stock Show

01/29/2013 6:41 PM

01/29/2013 10:59 PM

FORT WORTH -- The wind was gusting Tuesday morning at the Stock Show, but pre-kindergarten students from Holy Trinity Catholic School in Grapevine were delighted by the sun's morning visit.

"They said, 'We prayed really hard yesterday and look, God answered our prayers because the sun is coming out,'" teacher Debbie Phifer said.

The Stock Show is infamous for bringing bad weather to Cowtown, but that usually means low temperatures -- with an occasional side of snow and ice.

But on Tuesday, with temperatures in the 70s, afternoon thunderstorms had visitors and exhibitors breaking out raincoats and umbrellas.

A steady rain was falling by 3 p.m. -- accompanied by occasional thunder -- and Tally Amusement carnival ride operators took shelter among the bumper cars and wondered whether it would clear up before the midway opened at 4 p.m.

"At some point they'll call it," Larry Gibson said.

Until then, ride operators like him would be left waiting.

"It can quit in 15 or 20 minutes and then they'll open it up," he said.

While he won't get paid if the midway closes, Gibson doesn't complain about rainy days.

"I love them because we get a little extra rest this way," Gibson said.

Becky West, owner of Westland Ranch and operator of the petting zone and pony rides, spent Tuesday morning with her staff, tying down tarps and securing everything in sight.

"I'm watching the radar like every minute of the day," West said.

She said a storm a few years ago persuaded the ranch to reinforce its tents.

"We didn't actually have our tents bolted into the concrete at the time. We were using water barrels," she said. "This tent in particular actually lifted up and we had ponies in here."

If things got really bad, West said, she would shut down the attractions and put the animals in barns.

"The animals are used to this," she said. "We're set up next to a carnival with a roller coaster, so they're used to anything that could happen. It's more my staff I'm worried about."

After Tuesday's storms, the rest of this week is expected to be calmer, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s and 60s.

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655

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