ROCHESTER, Minn. – Weekend weather that wreaked havoc in southeastern Minnesota put a damper on the Aug. 17-19 antique shows collectively known as Gold Rush. Some dealers had to scramble to avoid rising water.
The Original Gold Rush Antique Show is held three times a year at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds in Rochester. On the third weekend in August, it shares the spotlight with Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days, which takes over the community of Oronoco a few miles to the north.
After a soggy weekend that saw 15 inches of rain fall in some areas, dealers at the Rochester show were told on Aug. 19 to move all vehicles and trailers parked in a campground next to the show.
The area had to be cleared because the Red Cross was going to use that location as a staging area in case of flooding.
Dealers in Rochester are divided between indoor and outdoor booths, but in Oronoco, all the sellers not operating antique shops set up outdoors.
Dealer Richard Larson of Maple Plain, Minn., told Antique Trader that sellers in Oronoco were warned on Aug. 18 that bad weather was coming, and told to prepare for stormy conditions.
“We covered everything up and tied it down, but the wind – which is usually the biggest threat – wasn’t a problem,” Larson said in a phone call from his home on Aug. 19.
“There were trailers and rigs that got stuck, but that’s happened before.”
It wasn’t until Larson and several other dealers returned to their hotel in Rochester that the flood threat became apparent.
“We looked out and the water was rising fast” in a spillway near the hotel located next to U.S. 52 on the west side of the city.
“We barely had time to move our trucks. It was a real torrent,” Larson said.
Street flooding was reported in the Rochester area. The city built a reservoir and spillway system after a devastating flood in 1978.
Heavy flooding elsewhere in southeastern Minnesota killed at least six people and caused mass evacuations in small communities.