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Second US stage collapse ends in tragedy

Five are confirmed dead and at least 45 injured after the stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair in Iowa this week just four weeks after the stage went down during the Ottawa Bluesfest, writes Paul Watson.

This week’s tragic stage collapse at Iowa’s Indiana State Fair is the second in as many months in the US. Four weeks ago, the stage went down at the Ottawa Bluesfest, twenty minutes into Cheap Trick’s set, due to a major thunderstorm. This latest incident happened on Saturday 14th August around 9pm as the fair’s rigging and country music duo Sugarland’s equipment buckled under strong winds. As a result, both the fair’s rig and the band’s gear collapsed; and Sugarland (pictured) cancelled their scheduled gig for the following day. Iowa State fair also held a moment of silence on Monday morning to honour the victims. Local Governor Mitch Daniels called it a “freakish accident” – a strikingly similar description to the one offered by Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest executive director Mark Monahan, who described the Ottawa stage collapse as “a freak situation”. Mid-America Sound Corp. put up the stage, and is reported to be launching an internal investigation to try and work out just what went wrong – though surely US concert-goers, and indeed hundreds of thousand around the world, will now be questioning the safety of live outdoor concerts. PSNE tried to contact several UK rigging and staging companies however none of them wished to comment; given the gravity of the situation, until the results of the investigation are published along with an engineering and structural report, perhaps this is understandable.
However, Andy Lenthall, general manager of the Production Services Assocation ( told us: “Every temporary structure has limitations, it is down to even organisers to be fully aware of those limitations, choose a structure that is appropriate and, crucially, manage the use of the structure. Looking at the footage of the tragedy in Indiana, it seems that some members of the audience had decided it was time to evacuate rather than the organisers. That is simply wrong.”
 Investigations are already underway by the Indiana Occupational Heath and Safety Administration and the State Fire Marshall’s office.