Thousands of East Tennesseans will celebrate America's birthday on Wednesday afternoon in Downtown Knoxville at Festival on the Fourth. Vendors spent Tuesday afternoon getting ready for the party.
That includes a local company, responsible for giving the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra a safe place to perform on the
south lawn of World's Fair Park. But they have a big job to make sure the stage is secure for the musicians and the audience, especially since there is a possibility of storms.
Over the past year, a handful of stage accidents have happened around the world. They were caused either by human error or bad weather. The stage on the south lawn is a totally different kind of structure than those that fell. Nonetheless, the company responsible for building it, Knoxville-based TERI Products, takes safety seriously.
"It can hold a full concert lighting rig, like you would see at the arena or coliseum," said Brad White, TERI Products' Chief Operating Officer.
But for the Fourth of July, the show comes outside. White leads the crew that assembles the stage. It's a service the company has performed in East Tennessee, and all over the United States, for 40 years.
"The set up takes about 20 guys and it's about a six to seven hour set up," explained White.
That's about triple the amount of time the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will make music in the park. White calls the labor a safety investment, "We build the roof first and then we raise the roof structure and then we build the stage under it in the shade."
Feet and feet of aluminum fit together like a puzzle. The roof rises up, or down, with the push of a button.
White said the stage manufacturer checks out the structure once a year for damages.
"This was inspected about five to six weeks ago. They come in and spend several days in our shop and take every single piece of the structure independently, inspect it, repair it, or replace it, and then show our guys how to set it up," explained White.
If Mother Nature decides to throw her weight around, she'll have to tangle with 20,000 pounds of cement anchors while White watches the weather.
"When we say it stops, it stops. Period. No questions asked. We have radar backstage so we are constantly watching the radar," said White.
But it's the audience who listens to the symphony's sounds, knowing safety precautions are in play.
Crews will begin immediately taking down the stage after the July 4th concert. White said that will take several hours, but by then temperatures should cool off.
The Festival on the Fourth is a free event. The festival starts at 2 p.m. in World's Fair Park. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra concert starts at 8 p.m., and the fireworks show starts at 9:35 p.m. For more information, check out the City of Knoxville website.
If you can't make it to the park, you can also watch the symphony concert and fireworks on 10News. Beth Haynes and Russell Biven will anchor live coverage beginning at 8 p.m.