One week before the start of the 2012 Indiana State Fair and nearly a year since the deadly stage rigging collapse that killed seven people and injured more than 58 others, the fair's executive director sat down with RTV6 to talk about the fair's future and why she decided not to quit.
Cindy Hoye could not talk about the pending lawsuits or about the chain of events on Aug. 13, but she broke her silence about the plans for the grandstands and safety at this year's fair.
"I think this year people are ready to get back to their fair, but they want to remember," Hoye said. "They want that respect."
Hoye said she is looking to strike a balance along the fine line between remembering the horrific events of Aug. 13 and asking fairgoers to have a great time during this year's two weeks of events at the Fairgrounds.
"It's a healing fair. It's a fair to heal everyone's heart and find that inner Hoosier spirit and continue. We're talking about celebrating the Hoosier spirit. That night there were so many Hoosier heroes come forward to help the victims. That's the first thing we want to establish: a feeling, an emotion about this year's fair," she said.
The Fair plans to honor the injured and those killed with a moment of silence on Aug. 13 at 8:46 p.m.
Hoye expects the Fair to come to standstill.
"Everybody that we've talked to says, 'Good, I want to stop. I'm a shuttle bus driver and I want to stop and I want to pay my respects.' The carnival operator says, 'That's going to be tough to do
but I absolutely respect and want to pay my tribute to those who lost their lives last year,'" she said.
"As much as we've talked about it being a challenge, this family out here wants to all embrace that challenge for the 13th."
Hoye and State Fair officials have been at the center of two independent investigations that reviewed the rigging collapse.
The reports cite the confusion and chaos on the night of Aug. 13 and questioned the Fair's leadership.
Hoye could not talk about the reports, but she said she is well aware of the criticism and she's committed to staying on the job and implementing the recommendations from the reports.
"My commitment is to make sure it's the best state fair we've ever had. It will be. From a safety standpoint to an entertainment standpoint, it absolutely will be," she said.
She said she's not spoken about her future with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who appointed her to her post as executive director in 2004.
"I will tell you my heart convinced me to stay," Hoye said. "I wanted to stay to see this through. I wanted to show people that there is such a wonderful team out here."
The fallout from the tragedy included the inspection of temporary stages, new safety procedures at the fair plus a memorial at the Grandstands in honor of the seven killed.
"I every single day think about them. I think about the people who lost loved ones every day. I pray for these people every day," Hoye said.
Hoye has accumulated a long list of accomplishments, including attendance records and forcing vendors to use less fatty oil to cook fried foods.
She said safety is her first priority when the fair begins Aug 3.
Hoye said she hasn't spoken to any of the families of the victims but keeps track of the progress of the injured through media accounts.
She points to the recovery of Andrea Vellinga and Brad Humphrey as her motivation to ensure that the fair is a safer place for all families.
"I have monitored their recovery. Believe it or not, they have given me an inspiration. The recovery has been inspirational to me, and victims are forever in my heart every day," she said.
Hoye said she expects big crowds to sample agricultural activities as well as other events at this year's fair.
But she says the heat, and the earlier start of school could impact those numbers.
And the Grandstands will be busy every day, but there will be no temporary stages for the foreseeable future.
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