WILLMAR - Sonshiners were forced to evacuate the festival grounds Saturday night after a potential tornado cloud was spotted over the city.
At around 5:30 p.m., the Sheriff's Reserve patrolling the grounds advised all festival campers to take down their tents because of a possible storm with high winds and hail. Security had been expecting and preparing for a storm all afternoon, according to Sgt. Julie Asmus of the Willmar Police Department.
At 6:40 p.m., festival-goers were sent to their cars, the high school or the Civic Center to wait out the storm. By 7:25 p.m., volunteer security were allowing people in the buildings to return to the grounds.
"(The evacuation) was almost textbook perfect," Asmus said. "The notice to campers was well in advance for them to prepare. People were in the buildings when the sirens went off, and it was very well-organized inside with the volunteer security."
The sun returned a little after 8 p.m., and by 8:30, the festival host announced that all was back on track. The evening ended with performances by Thousand Foot Krutch and Skillet, a two-time Grammy-nominated band.
"They're good, and a solid way to finish the festival," said Torin Swanson, 17, of Willmar. "They're legit. Enough said."