Four stages at festivals have collapsed in separate incidents this summer. The first two happened in Canada and Oklahoma, then this week stages dropped in Indiana and in Belgium. With the collapses many may be wondering if something similar could happen in Naperville.
Seven people have lost their lives of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse. Indiana officials are investigating the causes. Here in Naperville, city inspectors check stages before events, hoping to prevent a similar tragedy.
“We take a very close look at how the temporary structures, the stages, tents, canopies, etc. are both secured to the ground and then how they are stabilized so that in the event of a wind event, they are able to withstand that,” said Paul Felstrup, Lead Inspector with Transportation, Engineering and Development.
Some speculate the stage in Indianapolis collapsed because the canopy wasn’t lowered in time. The stages at both Ribfest and Last Fling also have canopies, but they can both be lowered easily.
“The fact that the Ribfest stages are out in a more open area can be problematic,” said Fesltrup. “But those are anchored down with substantial concrete anchorage.”
In less than two weeks, the area near the Millennium Carillon will be transformed into the stage for Last Fling. Members of the Naperville Jaycees say their stage is different from the stages at other events in town.
“[Ribfest and many of the other larger festivals] use scaffolding stages meaning they start from ground up,” said Brad Taylor, Executive Director of Last Fling. “They start building it piece, by piece, by piece. It’s not unpacked, unlike us.”
The stage at Last Fling comes in on a trailer and unpacks from there, and it raises and lowers easily. For any major event in town, there are multiple emergency action plans to evacuate parks.
“We’d be evacuating the park 45 minutes before something would come in a 10-mile swatch of right downtown Naperville,” said Felstrup. “With that in mind, we’re confident that if there was an event, by an unforeseen weather load or something like, that the area would be vacated by that time.”
When an emergency plan is put into action, a decision is made whether to lower a stage or not. Members of the Naperville Jaycees say they’ve never had to take down their stage due to inclement weather, but add that they can shut it down in less than fifteen minutes if needed.
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