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Storm topples tents at Market Days, sending vendors scrambling to repair damage

A powerful storm with winds topping 60 mph ripped through Concord’s Market Days Festival early yesterday, forcing organizers and vendors to labor through the morning hours to open the festivities at 10 a.m. as planned.

“It was intense. It was brief. But it certainly left a substantial impact on the entire length of Main Street encompassed by the festival,” Director Kim Murdoch said yesterday afternoon, her voice cracking with strain as Market Days neared its close.

At 2 p.m., Murdoch still hadn’t been to sleep since getting the call just past midnight yesterday that a storm had mangled a majority of the festival’s tents. She said four volunteers quickly went to work, calling all of the approximately 180 vendors.

“Many, many of those vendors came down at 1, 2, 3 in the morning,” Murdoch said. “And we worked with them to get their spaces addressed. We had lots who came down this morning and just literally folks who worked all through the night with the goal of opening Market Days for the third day.”

She said only a handful of vendors chose to not reopen yesterday, mostly those who had long drives from their homes to Concord.

While talk at the festival yesterday was that the storm was a microburst – a swift downshift of wind that can top 80 mph – James Brown of the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said it was likely just one of several powerful thunderstorms that barrelled through New Hampshire and Maine on Friday night and yesterday morning.

The storm knocked down trees and left about 8,600 area residents without power, according to Unitil, which said all but about 900 had been restored by about 9 a.m.

Concord police Lt. John Thomas said officers were inundated with calls about downed wires, but no injuries were reported. There were multiple street closures but none at major intersections.

Several officers also helped maintain order and security downtown while the vendors began putting their tents back together, Murdoch said.

“The vendors really stepped up and put things in place to be able to be open,” she said. “And by 10 a.m. there was tons of shopping to be done and food to be had and a full lineup of programs.”

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @tricia_nadolny.)

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