Normally in the business, it is customary to tell a performer to "break a leg" or "bring the house down." No one ever means it literally, so when it happened after Sara's performance, it all seemed so ominous. Saturday night, Sara Bareilles had just completed her opening for Sugarland and had received a nice ovation. Sugarland had yet to take the stage and the crowd was anxious for the feature entertainment to begin. The skies were starting to get dark. Now I have myself been a fan of different things in my life. And I suspect that I am not alone in not being a fan of weatherman when their forecast threatens to spoil the fun. However in hindsight, I suspect Indiana State fair goers wish they had followed the weatherman's advice a little more closely on Saturday evening.
Despite shock and surprise, the fact remains that forecasters warned of heavy rain and strong winds nearly two hours before the storm that collapsed of the stage Saturday night. Furthermore, officials had been on stage four minutes before the gust of wind to warn the crowd to seek shelter. The National Weather Service estimated winds at only 60 to 70 mph. While admittedly this is considered "high winds," concert officials still seem surprised that the metal scaffolding twisted and then fell into the "Sugarpit."
This tragedy killed five and hurt many more of Sugarland's best fans. Engineers took photos and studied the wreckage on Sunday for the cause of the failure. While engineers were busy calculating the force necessary to cause the fatigued metal to buckle, Gov. Mitch Daniels was making speeches as if he were an engineer assessing damage control: "It's not clear to me at this stage how anyone could have foreseen a sudden, highly localized gust of wind in one place." Video captures the steel scaffolding giving way, sending stage lights and metal onto fans closest to the stage.
Sara Bareilles and Sugarland cancelled their scheduled performance Sunday night at the Iowa State Fair. Jennifer Nettles, of Sugarland, posted: "there are no words to process a moment of this magnitude and gravity."
Undoubtedly, additional investigation utilizing engineers and lawyers will result in finding the words that Jennifer Nettles seems to lack and explanations that the Governor seems to ignore.