Officials with the International Bluegrass Museum are considering more safety measures as it plans for future music festivals.
Daviess County leaders met with museum officials last week to begin discussions on providing better security and more crowd control, the Messenger-Inquirer reported. The move came after an outdoor stage collapsed during high winds last month in Indiana killing seven people.
Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly questioned what would have happened if a violent storm had hit Yellow Creek Park during the Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival in June that drew more than 15,000 people.
That didn’t happen, but a thunderstorm left extensive damage not far away from the park while the festival was going on.
“It could have caused serious problems if it had hit the park” where more than 1,000 people were camped, he said.
Museum Director Gabrielle Gray said she favors a plan by Daviess County Parks Director Ross Leigh to form a team that would coordinate communications between the parks department, emergency responders and festival organizers.
“We would have a unified (radio) frequency for all so that communication in the event of an emergency would be dispatched immediately and would be handled with maximum efficiency,” she said.
Gray also suggested building a permanent stage at the park, “which would be safer and could be used by many organizations.”
Mattingly said the suggestion would be considered.
“We have to look at the costs and the pros and cons,” he said. “A permanent stage should be more secure. But we’ll have to look at it more closely before we make a decision.”
Attendance at this year’s festival – which featured performances by Steve Martin, Emmylou Harris and the Carolina Chocolate Drops – was more than double the number of people who attended the event in 2010 and Gray said she expects the number to keep climbing.
She said she sent a survey to 998 people who attended the event and got responses from 465. She said only 30 percent had attended a bluegrass festival there before, while 88 percent said they were likely to return.
Gray said planning has begun for next year’s show, but she didn’t reveal details.
“We’re going to have a great lineup,” she said. “We already have some bands signed, but we can’t announce them yet.”
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