Tragedy Hits State Fairgrounds

Tragedy Hits State Fairgrounds

The tragedy that struck the Indiana State Fair Saturday evening, Aug. 13, has already had some implications on livestock shows. What future changes might be made are yet to be determined.

The stage toppled during the Sugarland Concert at the state fair when what’s been called a freakish gust of wind hit the 3-story structure. Wind speeds of 77 miles per hour were reported at Plainfield, about 20 miles to the west, but wind speed at the fairgrounds that hit the stage has not yet been officially announced. Several people were killed and about 40 injured when the massive stage and equipment fell onto the track. Spectators were seated on the track, others were standing in the area. The band had not yet taken the stage. The wind gust was actually several minutes ahead of the actual severe thunderstorm that arrived. A sever thunderstorm was issued for Marion County by the National Weather Service just minutes before the tragedy occurred.

In the aftermath, the fairgrounds was closed to all but those essential persons or those needing to care for livestock or pick up livestock on Sunday. There’s an unconfirmed report from a sheep exhibitor that the conclusion of the 4-H sheep breeding show, including selection of the grand champion ewe over all breeds, scheduled to take place Sunday, was canceled.

While plans could change, the Beef barn Superintendent, Bill Lininger, says the current plan is to return to the normal schedule and open the fair at 8 a.m. Monday morning. The status of several events, including the rodeo scheduled for Monday evening, was in doubt.

Rumors indicate that fair officials may be seeking other places to hold concerts scheduled for the remainder of the fair. It’s possible that moving the concert could affect other planned activite4is, including livestock shows. However, no official announcement of plans has yet been made.

The best advice if you’re planning on attending the fair, especially if you’re planning on attending a specific event, is to utilize the Indiana State Fairgrounds Website for latest updates.

Anecdotal reports also indicate that there was very little other damage on the fairgrounds, even though rides on the Midway would have been vulnerable to high winds as well.

Stay tuned for more updates, especially as they affect agricultural events planned for the remaining week of the fair.

Saturday afternoon, Chuck Hibberd, Purdue Director of Extension, told us at the conclusion of the sheep show that everything was running smoothly so far. How quickly things can change!

The staff of Indiana Prairie Farmer  and Farm Progress Companies extends deepest sympathies to those injured, and the families fo those injured and killed during this tragedy. 

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