By TIM HORAN
and RON PRESTON
The show must go on.
That is the attitude of the Central Kansas Free Fair which starts today.
Despite the close to 7 inches of rain that fell in the Abilene area in two weeks, fair officials have made no changes in the schedule.
Because of the rain and ensuing mud, the carnival rides had a difficult time setting up and even borrowed a county wheel loader to help set up. However, fair officials said the carnival is scheduled to start tonight.
Despite a forecast of rain for Thursday and Friday the rodeo will also go on as scheduled.
Ruth Nicolaus, a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association promoter, said only on rare occasions is a PRCA rodeo postponed.
“And then it might be postponed for an hour or two, or the next morning,” she said. “These people make their living doing this. It (rodeo) will go on in the mud.”
Nicolaus said a tornado warning or very close lighting are the only times a PRCA even might be delayed.
Meanwhile, the Smoky Hill River is rising but does not present a danger. Chancy Smith, director of the Dickinson County Emergency Management, said a couple days of dry weather would be beneficial.
The Smoky Hill River was at 8 feet Monday when Smith measured the depth. It was at 14 feet Tuesday morning. The river is supposed to crest at 25 feet on Thursday, according to The National Weather Service Flood Prediction.
Smith said the county has few problems until the river water gets to 30 feet.
“At 30 feet we have a lot of problems. At 30 feet it cuts 15 highway off. It cuts Rain Road off. It cuts Jeep Road off. All those roads get cut off at 30 feet and we are well below that,” he said.
During the flood of 1993 when Smoky Hill River water reached the city limits, the Smoky Hill River crested at 32 feet, Smith said.
“They think that the next two days of dry weather will let the water move on down the river,” he said of the National Weather Service. “Thursday and Friday when it is supposed to start raining again, we should be out of the weather enough that it will drop back down. It should be pretty quick going up and coming down.”
Smith said a lot of water from Mud Creek is also being fed into the river.
“The thing that I thought was odd, at Sand Springs (west) it was at 14 feet this morning (Tuesday) and at Enterprise (east) it was at 20 feet and that’s because of Mud Creek,” he said. “Mud Creek is putting so much water into it.
“That’s not causing Abilene problems but it could Enterprise and Chapman should it get any higher,” he said.
The banks at both Enterprise and Chapman can also handle 30 feet of river depth. Smith said the same 25-foot crest is expected at those locations as well.
“The ground now has taken in all the water it is going to take in,” Smith said. “It’s just going to take time to soak in. Any (moisture) that comes in now is going to run right off. The ditches are full. The creeks are full. The waterways have water standing in them. It’s going to shoot right off into the creeks and rivers. A few dry days would be nice.”