Amid the excitement of opening day at the 2012 Indiana State Fair, the tragedy of last year's deadly collapse hung in the air as fairgoers paused to remember those who lost their lives.
Seven people were killed and 58 others were injured the night of Aug. 13, 2011, when rigging above the main grandstand stage collapsed onto the crowd awaiting a performance by country duo Sugarland.
As the fairgrounds once again welcomed crowds Friday, many paused by a plaque listing the names of those killed -- Alina BigJohny, Nathan Byrd, Glenn Goodrich, Jenny Haskell, Christina Santiago, Meagan Toothman and Tammy VanDam.
"It kind of lets people realize, hey, this happened. It doesn't let us forget that something bad happened to other people," said Kristina Carr, who stopped with her daughter, Breanna. "It lets us know that things can happen that is out of our control."
Austin Reckert, 17, was in the sheep barn when the stage rigging collapse, initially unaware of tragic events unfolding just across the fairgrounds.
He stopped by the memorial Friday and bowed his head.
"I'm upset about this I want to pay respects to them about what happened," Reckert said. "I'm very upset because it was very stressful. A lot of my friends were there when the stage collapsed."
A moment of silence will be observed at the fair in memory of the victims Aug. 13 at 8:46 p.m.
Fairgoers said they believe celebrating everything the fair stands for, including family and community, is the best way to honor those who lost their lives.
"You kind of think about (the collapse), but you still go on. You think about those people, but you still go on, maybe in their tribute," Melissa Saulmon said.
"I think that people do want to move forward, and the fair has been around for 150 years," said fair spokesman Andy Klotz. "It's going to keep being around, and they want to associate more great memories with the fair."
More than 875,000 people are expected to attend this year's fair. The event runs through Aug. 19.
Indiana State Fair
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