FOX59 investigates concert concessions as summer approaches

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Summer is upon us and there's a good chance a concert is on your list of plans, so FOX59 looked into venues to see if they're passing health inspections.

We took a look inside some of central Indiana's most popular spots, working off a Visit Indy list of 'Top Ten Live Music Venues.'

The first thing to note is that at some venues, like the Vogue, you'll find almost no food options.

Food Education Specialist Jillian Hicks, with the Marion County Health Department, says that's for a reason. The less food a venue offers, the less chance for food-borne illness.

"We don’t really want them to have a whole lot of food," Hicks said.

At the Vogue, it pays off. They've received almost no violations since last year.

So who is picking up those violations? It's the outdoor, summer-only venues that logged the most.

Over the course of last season, the Lawn at White River State Park picked up nine critical and seven non-critical violations. That's a pretty low number, considering the Lawn was inspected more than a dozen times. It's considered a temporary event, where food is not served every day, so Hicks and other inspectors show up for almost every concert.

Critical violations at the Lawn included food held at the wrong temperatures, nacho cheese that had to be thrown away, cups stored too close to the ground, and one bar without a place to wash hands.

"Hand washing stations are a big one for us," Hicks said. "They need to have one within about ten feet."

By the end of the season, the Lawn was doing much better. It logged no violations after the end of July.

The worst offender we found, which is also by far the biggest venue, is Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville.

In six inspections over the course of last season, the venue picked up 35 critical violations and more than 100 non-critical violations.

Those violations included numerous instances of hand sinks without any soap, some areas without hand sinks at all, and cups being kept on the floor. An inspector also noted "food surfaces are not sanitized" and "excessive bees" at a beer stand in September. They also noted an "employee used a plastic pan as a scoop in popcorn (with) no gloved hands."

It's an outside company, Legends, that provides services for the venue. A spokesperson sent us the following statement:

"Rectifying each and every health-related issue, whether defined critical or non-critical by Hamilton County on our inspection, has been and continues to be a top priority for Legends. Since March 2015 when Legends took over the hospitality management at Klipsch Music Center, we've implemented a proactive approach to improve the overall conditions and positively impact the guest experience.

Several steps are already in progress, as detailed below:

• We have worked with our client, Live Nation and addressed all issues identified by Hamilton County board of health to ensure we are ready for our guests on opening day, May 14, 2016.

• Working closely with our Legends in-house safety and sanitation expert to implement process and procedures to remedy and correct each and every issue - with a focus on prevention.

• Provided additional regional management resources in October 2015 to provide oversight and guidance on-site at Klipsch Music Center.

• Continuing to stay in communication with the Hamilton County board of health to provide updates on our progress and make sure that we understand all details and processes to meet all Hamilton County health code inspections at the highest standards moving forward, proactively addressing and remedying all concerns."

Overall, the rest of the area's biggest concert venues checked out, with little to no critical violations.

If you're heading out to see live music, Hicks suggests you pay attention as much as you do in a restaurant, so you only have to worry about having a good time.

"We’re definitely monitoring them pretty closely because we do see them a lot more," Hicks said.

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