Investigators Say State Fair Not Prepared For Emergency

More than one hundred witnesses were questioned…though employees of the company that built the stage declined.

stage collapse

Photo: Rich Evers (Flickr)

A stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair last August prior to a performance by the country music duo Sugarland.

An investigation into last year’s Indiana State Fair stage collapse shows that the State Fair Commission was not adequately prepared to deal with that emergency. 

Emergency management firm Witt Associates conducted an eight-month investigation into the preparedness and response surrounding the State Fair stage collapse.  More than one hundred witnesses were questioned…though employees of the company that built the stage and the stage manager for musical group Sugarland declined. 

Witt Vice President Charlie Fisher says the State Fair Commission wasn’t ready to deal with the problems it faced.

“Although they did have plans in place, the emergency response plans and procedures were not fully developed,” he says. “The plans were not referenced or used on August 13th.

The investigation shows that Sugarland’s tour manager denied requests to delay the show…and Fisher says there was confusion as to who had the authority to postpone the concert.

“A single State Fair Commission executive official should have the designated authority to make the final decision on the status of a show,” he says.

Other recommendations include appointing a public safety official at the Fair and hiring a private weather monitoring company…both of which the State Fair Commission has already done.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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