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State Fair Is Prepared If Severe Storms Strike

Updated: Monday, August 11 2014, 11:34 AM CDT
SPRINGFIELD -- Although there were no severe storms Thursday night at the Illinois State Fair, only one bolt of lightning can bring a tragic end to the fair.  Which is why officials always use caution with mother nature.

Mother nature forced the cancelation of the annual Twilight Parade Thursday evening.

"Rain conditions like this will definitely keep a facility or event numbers and attendance way down," said Bob Kunstop.

But that's a risk fair officials are willing to take. They say their team of experts  warned about the possibility of lightning in the area. It's a protocol the fair has been using for years.

"The National Weather Service will call us and say hey it looks like there is a storm about an hour away and I will call you in about half an hour. We will advise our team at that point that their could be some brewing be prepared for another phone call," said State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick.

Once the fair officially opens on Friday, thousands of people will be scattered throughout the hundreds of acres that make up the fairgrounds. If a severe storm strikes, the fair is ready.

"It literally will take minutes to get the streets cleared and everyone in safe locations," said Bliefnick.

That's why the Illinois State Fair uses a speaker system. In the event of a severe thunderstorm or tornado, people will be asked to enter the nearest sturdy structure But warnings will go out to certain areas before others.

"There are things like the sky glide which takes 20 minutes to go from one side to the other. They are the first person we have to call because we don't want anyone stuck up there in the case of a storm," said Bliefnick.

It's a system the fair has used in the past to protect both fair goers and the hundreds of vendors.

"You could hear everything on the PA what's going on and they keep us pretty well informed here," said one vendor.

Illinois State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnik says there are 171 buildings around the fairgrounds giving people plenty of opportunities to take cover during a thunderstorm.

Because of an incident at the 2011 Indiana State Fair, where winds toppled a stage, organizers at the Illinois State Fair now have the ability to take certain parts of the stage down at a moments notice to protect it and the audience from severe weather.State Fair Is Prepared If Severe Storms Strike

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