Severe Weather Concerns Rodeo Participants

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The Old Fort Futurity and Derby is being held at Kay Rodgers Park in Fort Smith. Those participating are bracing for severe weather.

Many saw reports of the devastating tornado that ripped through central Oklahoma Monday (May 20). It has them worried.

"The trees were just like tooth picks just twisted it was bad and they said if you were coming or going anywhere today it's bad again today in Oklahoma," said Phyllis Wells Newalla, Okla.

It’s Wells first day in town. Like many, she’s not sure what to do if severe weather hits the rodeo grounds.

"This is our first chance of coming up here to Fort Smith and I don't have an escape route or where to go to or what to do," said Louisiana native Bo Deblieaux.

With recent tornado warnings, they’re not only scared for their safety but for their horses safety.

"There high dollar animals and you know that's another concern. Where do you go with those?" said Deblieaux.

Krystal Dyer drove more than15 hours to Fort Smith from Cleveland, Ohio, and is on unsure of what she will do if a tornado strikes the River Valley.

"The fact that our horses are in tents, stalls and that we really have nowhere to go and there's probably about 2,000 people here crammed in a little expo center, so it's a little concerning," she said.

Sebastian County Dept. of Emergency Management officials said there are safety measures futurity goers can take.

"Quite often animals are extremely adapt to nature, so they will normally take off in a situation like that,” said Deputy Director Aqib Kenoly. “So if you can try to protect yourself and animals, if they run off, let them go.”

Some Fort Smith locals like Ken Ham have a plan.

"You just got to find shelter,” he said. “I mean you got to get in a ditch or something it's just common sense."

 The futurity lasts until May 25.