A severe storm last year blew down tents and other temporary structures at the Missouri State Fair, but no one was injured. That was only days after a storm at the Indiana State Fair blew down a concert stage, killing seven people and injuring 43.
With those events fresh in memory, Missouri State Fair organizers are offering a text message-based warning system to guests at this year’s Fair. Director Mark Wolfe says last year’s storm in Sedalia exposed an issue.
“One of the things that we noticed during that storm last year was it was very difficult to get a hold of not only just people on the grounds but those people maybe that evening that had already left … vendors and things … as we moved into the evening hours.”
The service, called Nixle, is being offered in conjunction with the Highway Patrol.
“When you come through the gate there will be signs right there at the gates that shows you with your phone how you can sign up for this Nixle system. What will happen is any time any kind of alert goes out it is monitored from right there on the fairgrounds from the Highway Patrol office. We can send out any kind of weather alert and it’s one send. You hit it one time and everybody that’s signed up gets it immediately in the form of a text message.”
To sign up, send a text to 888777 with the message MOFAIR12
Highway Patrol Lieutenant John Hotz says Fair goers can sign up based on their involvement at the Fair. “People, for example, who are in the campgrounds will sign up for one type of message, people who maybe are showing livestock will sign up in a different group and vendors would sign up in even another group. Basically what we want to try to do is send the information to the people that need it.”
Hotz says some messages will go to more than one group, as an emergency might warrant. It will tell recipients when an emergency arises, and more. “They’re also going to get instructions on if they do need to evacuate and what building they need to go to on the Fairgrounds.”
Hotz says the sign up information collected won’t be used for anything except to send alerts regarding emergencies at the State Fair.
The Fair begins Thursday in Sedalia.