Ind. fairs, festivals await stage rigging rules

Associated Press Modified: April 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm •  Published: April 26, 2012

The temporary rules are intended to serve as a placeholder until permanent rules are in place. A summer legislative study committee will draft recommendations for permanent rules that the next General Assembly will consider.

Among the groups awaiting the new rules is Visit Madison Inc., which is preparing for the Ohio River city's River Roots Music and Folk Arts Festival in May, a blues festival in August and other events.

Linda Lytle, the tourism group's director, said the stage that will be used for the folk music festival at a riverfront park in Madison is hydraulically operated and mounted to the bed of a semitrailer so it can be moved to new sites. She said it unfolds to form a 32-foot-by-46-foot stage with its own rigging in place and is very stable.

"I'm guessing that because of its sturdiness we're going to be OK, but you still don't know what kind of regulations they're going to come up with," she said. "We're hoping that if they do say, 'This is something that needs to be inspected,' they're going to work with us on it."

Steve Patterson, the director of administration with the Indiana Association of Fairs, Festivals and Events, said the "big question" the association's members are asking is whether the new rules will include fees or costs associated with the need for engineers or inspections.

Patterson, who's also director of the Hendricks County 4-H Fair board, said that because of the uncertainty about the rules, the fair's lighting and sound contractor hasn't provided cost estimates for his services for two country music concerts that will be part of the fair's July run in Danville, west of Indianapolis.

"He doesn't know what the requirements are, so he can't tell us how much it will cost," Patterson said.

The legislation's sponsor, Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said the new state rules will be flexible enough to ensure that small-town festivals and fairs are safer without creating costly new burdens.

"The rules are going to be geared more toward the major stage structures, but we still want to make sure all of these events are safe," he said.