State Fair report will lead to best practices in industry


Last summer's tragedy at the Indiana State Fair now has people from around the world turning to the state for the lessons of the State Fairgrounds' stage rigging collapse.

Governor Mitch Daniels is working with entertainment representatives from other states and other countries who want to make temporary outdoor venues safer.

The cries of pain and the calls for help touched Hoosiers across the state last August and now, the entire entertainment industry.

"The pain that was felt here in Indianapolis was shared around the world," said Tim Roberts, a safety advisor with Event Safety Shop Ltd.

For the first time, producers, promoters and security directors worldwide are talking about fixing the gaps in the outdoor entertainment industry. They've come to Indianapolis where the worst tragedy unfolded, leaving seven dead and more than 40 seriously injured.

Now, there is a push for unified building standards and inspections, starting with framework from the so called "Purple Guide." The "Purple Guide" is an event safety guide of best practices, now used in the United Kingdom.

"Means we can go back again and analyze where the failures were. I can't stand here in front of you and say the U.K. has got this absolutely right, there's always stuff to learn," said Roberts, who helped to create the Event Safety Guide in the U.K.

"Why is the U.S. slow to adopt this?" 13 Investigates questioned.

"I don't know that we're slow to adopt it, but we're certainly on course right now to get there," said Jim Digby, production manager of Linkin Park, who was also speaking on behalf of the Safety Alliance.

Behind closed doors, entertainment reps discussed ways to create a culture of safety first.

"That's the kind of safety mentality that we all have to adopt and insist on for those responsible for public events in Indiana," said Daniels, in support of the group. "We've all learned that, worldwide, these things had not been built at least in a standard way and that they're vulnerable."

"I think the inspection process is part of the solution and once we have a common framework to all work from, it will be easier to inspect everyone, it will be easier to build to code. It will be easier to do our job," said Digby, the co-founder of the Safety Alliance.

"What stood out was that kids got hurt and people died at the show and the ripples and the effects of that were very keenly felt in the U.K," added Roberts.

The Safety Alliance will now ask the industry here in the U.S. to adopt the "Purple Guide," which will include the findings cited in the Thornton Tomasetti and Witt reports.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security says it has already obtained a lists of Indiana festivals that include outdoor temporary stages. Anything over 30 inches (2.5 feet) will have to be inspected. That work begins when the new rules go into place in just over a week.

Also today, the State Fair Commission announced Barry, Blake, Journey and Train will headline the 2012 Indiana State Fair concerts. The shows will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The State Fair will run 17 days from August 3 through August 19th. At the same time, renovation work on the Pepsi Coliseum will be underway.