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Combine derby cut short by storm

7/21/2013

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Steve Hardesty was having a good time at the combine demolition derby Friday night at the Ellis County Fair.

"I've never seen this before in my life," said Hardesty, who is a combine mechanic from Golden, Colo., who happened to be in Hays for a few days for his job.

But Hardesty's time was short watching the fourth annual event.

Storm clouds brought a north wind -- and dust storm -- that had the American flag stiff in the breeze before the contest began.

A light rain began to fall during the first heat, which was completed. Before the next heat could begin, the rain started to fall harder. With lightning in the area, officials called a halt to the event.

"The sheriff's department didn't want people in the bleachers," said Kent Tammen, who is on the fair board and one of the organizers of the event.

The derby never re-started.

Tammen tried to look on the positive side of things.

"Well, we need the rain," he said. "A good and bad situation."

Hardesty was standing in the bleachers, waving his arms and yelling with excitement during the one heat he was able to watch.

"I'm staying here until it's done," he said as the rain began to fall. "I'm so excited."

There was a regular demolition derby with cars scheduled for Saturday night.

"I would love to see that, too," Hardesty said.