Indiana State Fair stage collapse

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Sort of off topic since it's not an issue for home repair, but sort of on topic since it has to do with construction.
I'm sure you've seen the collapse on tv, and its all over the internet especially on youtube.
From looking at that stage, it looked way too tall, and much too top heavy. I dont understand why they make them so tall to begin with, then they hang tons of lighting and huge heavy speakers from them. It would be like building a house by making the walls by using a few 2x4s in the four corners, then building a huge and very heavy roof on top. Then add a few tons of equipment on top of that.
To me, that whole stage looks like it was build wrong. Those tall scaffolding towers look flimsy compared to the weight on top.
Does it look this way to you too?
Aside from what appears to be a poorly built structure, I have to question why two musicians need all of that staging. What ever happened to simply enjoying the music. Granted for an audience of 12,000, they need some amplification, and of course some lights are needed, but if you download a video and play it in slow mode, you can see that the entire "ceiling" was covered with lighting, and there were huge speakers hung from the scaffolding.
It seems to me that the amount of equipment used to put on a musical act these days is rediculous. All they really needed was a 12x20 foot stage with a simple tarp over it, and speakers stacked on the platform, with two light towers. I go to lots of shows at county fairs and that is all they have. Yet the shows are fun. Not only are these huges stages dangerous, but we could see these shows for much less money if they cut out all that huge staging.
It's a real shame that people had to die because of our "bigger is better" attitude which seems to be the case with all musical types these days.
Another thing is the sound equipment. I went to a local event and saw a very good local band. They had so much electronics I could not understand the point. Four 14 channel mixer boards for a four member band..... They had 3 computers connected to all of this, and over 40 speakers. This was for a crowd of about 1000 people. I thought the sound quality was bad, muddy, and much too loud. Two weeks later I saw this same band again. This time they had an average sound system with one mixer board, and a few speakers. They sounded 100 times better.
We live in a world of bloat, and particularly when it comes to electronics. Now we pay the price.
While the deaths are bad enough, it could have been much worse if all that electrical equipment had shorted out and electrocuted everyone touching that scaffolding.
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Music is no longer a simple delight. Now we have to have all sorts of lighting and special effects to justify the incredible ticket prices. Modern Marvels had a show about American Trucking. They show a country singer that moves 9 trailers of equipment for each show. These guys may have been similar in that respect. Crazy. The music should be the showcase.
I'd not speculate on the construction. I don't know how high the wind gust was. It should have been engineered to take a minimum of 75 mph because that can happen in a thunderstorm. 50 to 65 is rather frequent.
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Our newspaper this morning said that two National Weather Service employees who were attending the concert as fans estimated the gust at ~70 mph.
-- Doug in Indianapolis
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Yeah, there were awnings on food stands a few hundred feet away that survived intact. One of the TV weather guys described it as sort of a horizontal microburst. WHile that probably made the NWS people cringe, that did sorta make sense as an explanation.
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wrote:

The problem with this was it was up in the unobstructed wind. Down at ground level the wind was not going to going as fast because there was a lot to block it.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Don't know what, for this discussion constitutes "unobstructed". The stage is in the middle of the infield for the race track. Once it entered the fairgrounds, there wasn't anything there to block it.
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wrote:

The comparison was to concession tents at ground level. This stage is probably 40-50 feet high. here was nothing obstructing the wind that high. Sugarland also has a big LED screen as the back wall of the stage that they show special effects on during the show and that was a huge sail. I bet the screen went down and took all of the risers with it.
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wrote:

Note the smaller tents on both ends of that stage. They were fine, until the stage crushed the one on the right. Those tents are simple canvasses with a few poles. Normally those are the first to go.
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wrote:

The one that got crushed was obviously protected (at least from the wind) by stage, etc. You have a point about the other one.
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Yep, the carnival remained intact on the other end of the grounds, as did other parts of the fair. Obviously there were other tents, as there are at all fairs. (You can see the ferris wheel/carnival to the left in the videos). The news reports said the winds were 60 to 70mph, (depending on which station reported it). That's serious wind, but why did only this stage collapse? As soon as that roof tarp came loose, it began to fall. Seems like that tarp acted as a sail and just pulled it down. But once again, the weight on top was too heavy.
If this had been a "normal size" stage with a tarp on top, the tarp would have come down, causing little or no human injury. No one would have died if a few boards came down or a stage light tower fell over. I can not even guess how much weight was hanging on that frame. The news said "tons", and I speculate that means tons as a 3 digit figure.
After all, the whole purpose of the "roof" on those stages is to protect the performers from rain and weather. The problem is they use those structures to hang all the lighting and gear. It would be a lot less harmful if the performers got an unwanted "bath" in a rainstorm.
I can recall when a local county fair who uses a flatbed truck for a stage, has a wooden frame with a tarp overhead. Some years back, that tarp came off during a storm, before the show. The frame stayed intact. The show went on without a roof, and everything was fine. There was a light rain during the show, the performers and audience made the best of it, the sound guys tossed tarps over the speakers and electronic gear, and the show went on. Everyone had fun.
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snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

I seriously doubt the tons hanging on it were anywhere near 3 digits. My estimate from what I've seen and the rigging I've worked with in the past would be on the order of 10 tons (20,000#) at most. Aluminum truss is not especially heavy, canvas roof material is not that heavy, the lights are on the order of 10# each, and speakers up to 150# or so each.
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wrote:

Whoever said that clearly isn't familiar either with the stage rigging, or the nearby structures. Use GoogleEarth to grab yourself a satellite view of the Indiana State Fairgrounds and you'll see what I mean.
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And they do the weirdest things. The "police" reporter went for an extended period of time during the reports of the active rescue about how bad cell service was and how the Fair should do something about it. I put on their FB about how (1). The Fairgrounds has long been notorious for lousy cell service (2). Cell service is not even remotely the responsibility of the Fair Board and (3) If he had taken any time to actually stay abreast of things he would suppose to be reporting on, he would know that it is well established that the first piece of infrastructure to go is cell phones. THey are scaled for normal use and you can't expect them to function when 18,000 try to use their phones all at once. This why they are programmed to give public safety services priority in a disaster. The other indefensible thing they did was to give some spectator kid who couldn't have been more than 25 a full 90 seconds (an eternity in TV time) to tell everyone EXACTLY what went wrong and how it should be fixed. Interesting that I have yet to see the first engineer (despite Purdue being just down the road) interviewed.
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wrote:

You're correct about it lifting first if you look at the animated computer graphic on wishtv.com. Had that tarp been able to come off completely, this would not have likely happened. That tarp lifted it.

Actually they did mention that gas explosion somewhere in the coverage I saw, but I have looked at so much coverage, that I dont recall where I saw it...... I wonder what caused that anyhow??????? It might be on the fairs own website.....
Thats the problem with fairs, they are only used one week a year and stuff goes unnoticed..... A nearby small local fair had a cattle barn building collapse from snow load a few years ago. No one knew exactly when it happened, because no one goes to the fair grounds in winter. The building had to be demolished and replaced in very short time. When the fair opened, the new building was built, but still lacked doors, windows and other unimportant stuff. But it worked fine for the cattle.
It was only a month ago when a similar stage collapsed in Ottawa Canada. That stage did not appear to be as heavy though, and no one was killed, just a few injuries. Cheap Trick was playing. There was not nearly as much media coverage on that one because no one was killed. I believe the date was July 16 or 17. There are some youtube videos available.....
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wrote:

WTHR found a person who had been at both the Coliseum explosion and the Sugarland fall. If I was the Fairgrounds I think I'd keep her out. The explosion was caused by a leaking cylinder of propane for a thing was being used to keep pre-popped corn hot. It went and some other stuff went sympathetic and the rest is history.

The state fairgrounds is in use throughout the year, although I think the stage is only in use during the Fair itself. I know they do other concerts during the year, but I think all of them are in the Coliseum. That area and the Grandstand is used quite often for various races, including the night before the 500. They used to motorcycle races there before the Moto-GP at IMS, but I don't know if the Fair was going to be over in time this year.
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On Mon, 15 Aug 2011 22:21:26 -0700, "DGDevin"

The woman who filmed the collapse of that stage, (the one which we have all seen over and over), should become a news reporter. She kept filming and kept the camera steady during the whole collapse. Most people would have had that camera going in all directions. She's good, very good!!! I hope she gets some recognition for this....
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On 8/15/2011 5:02 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Correct. I'd take James Taylor, Chris Smither or someone like that with just one person playing guitar and singing, over any of these "stars" country or rock-n-roll these days. It's mostly all crap music and showmanship.
-C-
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Hardly new, though. KISS traveled REALLY heavy back in the day. The Stones had a tour in the late 70s that took up 15 trucks.
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Kurt Ullman wrote:

Hardly new, and hardly a detraction. With today's high quality music recording and many live produced albums, there is not much real reason to go see a live show unless there is substantial additional showmanship.
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True. One of the best sounding live albums I have heard in the last few years was from Scott Kirby, a good but not exactly well known singer on a backwater label. If HE can do it, anybody can. '
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