Show Stopper at Old Timers Days

Late-season tonado hits just before Old Timers Days show opens in Xenia, Ohio


| December 2000



A block wall crumpled by the storm.

A block wall crumpled by the storm.

Photo by Carrie Cooper

Events sometimes take on a life of their own. And that is why the most memorable Old Timers Days show at Xenia, Ohio, will probably turn out to be the one that never was. Just two days before this year's event was to open, a tornado hammered the showgrounds at Xenia, where volunteers were making last-minute preparations. 

The tornado swept in and out in one minute on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 20. In that howling 60 seconds, one man was killed, countless others were injured, nearly 20 buildings at the fair grounds were destroyed, and debris was hurled in every direction.

Xenia resident Jim Mullins was the storm's only fatality. At the fairgrounds when the storm struck, he and his wife had taken shelter in their truck when it was hit by an uprooted tree. Although he was not a member of the Old Timers club, Mullins was a draft horse enthusiast.

"They took him from the church to the cemetery in a horse-drawn wagon," says Russ Luse, president of the Old Timers.

The storm built in intensity as it reached Xenia.

"It came in over Indiana, but it was just thunderstorms there. Then it just dropped in here in a flash. It was," Russ adds, "a disagreeable day to start with."