While it is probable that Mortlake (western Victoria) farmer Ray Anderson is a very capable stage builder, his gesture in providing a free stage for Leighfest (Lawson’s Park, Inverleigh) amplifies concerns at a lack of standards for outdoor events.
Local press in Geelong have lauded the donation of the stage, reported to be worth $300,000. “We milk cows for a living, and music is out love”, he told the Geelong News this week. Apparently Ray was driving through Inverleigh and saw a sign promoting the festival. He contacted organisers and offered his stage for free, provided his family country act were put on the bill.
He said he had recruited experts to operate sound and lights, and build the stage, all for a barbecue and a beer.
While CX applauds community spirit and respects anyone’s right to have a go, we sincerely hope that the event organisers have done their homework.
Any outdoor event should have a proper risk analysis, a clear and well communicated crowd management plan that defines actions required in the face of adverse weather events, and proper engineering reports that detail the very specific event related limitations on the exact structure to be used, exactly as rigged with the specific production and scenic elements that will be in situ on the day.
As many accidents in recent times (especially Indiana State Fair last year, where seven were killed and more than 40 injured) have shown, what may appear sufficient often is not. At Indiana, road barriers weighing two tonnes each were dragged across the ground as soon as winds approached little more than half the speed predicted to make the roof fail.
We wish everyone at Inverleigh well for the festivities.