An eyewitness report from Peter Christian of KGVO Radio.

Having been to the Western Montana Fair every year since the 1970’s, primarily through my work as a broadcaster, I can safely say that in all that time, I don’t ever remember tasting a Viking from the Sons of Norway booth. The line was always too long.

So, my wife and I, after my yard work was done, ventured forth to the fair just before 5:00 p.m., looking forward to the free admission, seeing friends and tasting my first Viking.

The line was long, about 40 or 50 deep, so we waited, chatting with other fairgoers, as the wind began to pick up. I noticed rain over the Rattlesnake area heading for Mount Sentinel, when the first fat drops began pelting us in line.

Within a few minutes the rain turned to wind-driven pellet-sized hail and the crowd dissipated, running for cover. But, not I. I would not be dissuaded from tasting my first Viking. I held out a soggy five dollar bill, and was handed a covered Styrofoam plate containing my Viking. I hurried through the driving rain and hail to a covered booth and discovered they had given me six Vikings! So, I shared them with the other refugees from the rain. They were delicious, by the way.

When there was a break in the weather, my wife and I left, watching kids playing in the deep mud puddles. They know what mud puddles are for! We headed for the car several blocks away and drove home.

So endeth the saga of my first Viking at the Western Montana Fair. I guess you could blame me for the hail storm.

On a serious note, Dave Noble with the National Weather Service described the storm that swept through the fairgrounds and continued on up into the Flathead Valley.

“The storm formed right near Mount Sentinel and brought some small hail and gusty winds to the fair,” said Noble. “Other than that, we didn’t hear of any severe reports in the Missoula area. There were reports of winds and pea-sized hail in the Mission Valley.”

Noble said the Flathead Valley took the brunt of the storm.

“They just congealed into this big front that tracked north over Flathead Lake with about 50 mile per hour gusts there,” he said. “There were also 50 mile per hour gusts in the Flathead Valley and we’re hearing reports of some trees down, some power line issues and power outages along the east side of Flathead Lake and in the Kalispell area.”

Noble said Missoula may have more thunderstorms over Sunday, with the weather calming by Monday.

No matter what the date, what would the Western Montana Fair be without wind, rain and hail, right?


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