Oklahoma Fair Takes Precautions After Indiana Tragedy

Thursday, September 15th 2011, 12:21 am
By: News 9

Michael Konopasek, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma State Fair officials say they are taking an overabundance of caution for the concert stage after last month's deadly stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair. Weather forecasts Wednesday called for a rainy start to the fair on Thursday.

Throughout the week leading up to the fair, crews were working to add new measures to the fair's stage to make sure, even if the weather takes a turn for the worse, they will be prepared.

In Indiana, the tragedy happened as weather changed for the worst in an instant. One minute, the weather was calm, the next, the stage was in ruins at the fairground in Indianapolis.

Here in Oklahoma, the state fair is making sure a similar scene will not unfold.

"Within minutes, we could have [the] top [of the stage] down to the deck," said Scott Munz, Oklahoma State Fair's vice president of marketing and public relations.

Munz says audience members should not worry.

"[The] policy manual actually exceeds industry standards, and this year they've decided to double those standards," said Munz.

Doubling the standards means additional cable equipment and more guy-wires that anchor the top of the stage to ground.

The fair says a meteorologist will be on location during concerts, and if 40 mile per hour winds are in the forecast, officials promise to jump into action.

"If some weather conditions come up, at first, we'll suspend the show," said Munz. "If conditions warrant, we'll ask people to move away from the stage."

Munz would not say whether this year's extra precautions are in response to the stage collapse in Indiana, but he did say this is the first year for such precautions. Munz also says a local structural engineering firm has reviewed the stage, and adds that no government agencies are responsible for monitoring outdoor stages.

State fair organizers also say they will be in communication with the National Weather Service in Norman to monitor any severe weather, should such weather form.