Junkstock’s first weekend a success thanks to tornado clean-up crew

Junkstock’s first weekend a success thanks to tornado clean-up crew
Courtesy/ Nebraska News Service. Junkstock attendees mosey around Messner Bee Farm’s booth on Sunday, May 5. After a tornado hit Sycamore Farms in Waterloo, the home of Junkstock, organizers were unsure if it would happen as scheduled. Volunteers helped clean up and made sure the festival could go on.
May 18th, 2024 | Livia Ziskey, Nebraska News Service

WATERLOO–Not even a tornado can stop Junkstock from bringing the community together.   

The vintage festival opened as scheduled on Friday, May 3 – just a week after a tornado hit Sycamore Farms in Waterloo, where Junkstock takes place.  

Skye Mielke, owner of Soul + Muse Boutique and vendor at Junkstock, drove by the farm with her husband on Friday, April 26, to check out the damage.  

“It was a wreck,” Mielke said.

Tree limbs, building debris and trash covered the ground, she said, and only three of the farm’s buildings were left standing.  

“It was pretty devastating,” Mielke said. “The building I was supposed to be in was flipped over and demolished.” 

When she showed up at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, to assist with cleanup, she said she was joined by hundreds of other volunteers. Students, faculty and parents from DC West High School came up to help, according to Junkstock’s Facebook post, as well as neighbors and local businesses. 

“I was surprised at the amount of high school kids that were there helping out,” Mielke said.  

Without the students and other volunteers, Mielke said Junkstock’s first weekend would not have been the success that it was.  

“If people wouldn’t have just shown up to give time and their strength, and their trailers and all that, there’s no way it would have happened,” Mielke said. 

Children dance to live music at Junkstock on Sunday, May 5. The first weekend of the festival went on as scheduled despite a tornado damaging the property on April 26. Courtesy/ Nebraska News Service. Volunteers aided in cleanup efforts to make that possible.

The tornado didn’t knock over the Arena, which holds more than 40 vendors, but it did rip off part of the roof, Mielke said. The roof of Junkstock founder Sara Alexander’s home on the farm also took a hit, but volunteers repaired both before the festival began, Mielke said.  

Leah Hall, owner of Happy Hour Vintage, is a first-time vendor at Junkstock this year. She set up her booth in the Arena, under the new roof that hadn’t been there days earlier. Hall lives in Sarpy County, and while she was safe from tornado damage, she said she knows people who live near the most damaged parts of Elkhorn. 

Hall found out around 10 p.m. on the evening the farm got hit, she said, but her first concern was not about being able to sell her items at Junkstock. 

“People come first,” Hall said.  

Once she found out that no one she knew was hurt or injured, she began to wonder about the possibility of Junkstock being canceled. Hall said she got an email from Sara Alexander, founder of Junkstock, on Friday night, saying that community members were already helping clean up the damage.

Just a day after the tornado, Junkstock posted on Facebook saying the show would go on as scheduled thanks to the community’s help.  

“So much love and really no words to express our sincere gratitude to you all,” Junkstock wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday evening. 

When Hall arrived to set up her booth, she said she couldn’t believe how clean the farm looked.  

“I was flabbergasted, to say the least,” Hall said. “It didn’t look like a tornado had been here.” 

Hall said she isn’t surprised so many volunteers helped with cleanup, and she admires the way Junkstock brings the community together in love of shopping and food. 

“I love the festival vibe we have here,” Hall said. “The music, and the good local food – it’s just a great event.”

Despite the tornado and rainy, windy weather that followed, Mielke said she loves being a part of Junkstock. 

“The crowd there has been great, and people are super supportive,” Mielke said. “It’s always worth it for us to be out there, but Mother Nature’s testing everyone this year.” 

Junkstock is raising money for victims of the April 26th tornadoes. Those interested can donate via Junkstock’s website.


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