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Craft Show | Art Show: Plan for Bad Weather

Updated on April 6, 2015
Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell is a freelance writer with WriterAccess, webmaster, member of Pinterest Party on FB and the owner of Lake Erie Artist Gallery.

Being Prepared for Different Weather Situations Can Make or Break an Art Show

If you have ever frequented any kind of outdoor art or craft show, you are well aware that "the show must go on" in all kinds of weather. People who show regularly learn that being able to show in all weather will make their art / craft show more successful, and a lot less stressful. Art show displays need to be designed to hold up in all weather from heat to rain to wind.

In this article, I will outline basic show crisis preparedness that is well worth your time, and will save you a lot of money and headache in the long run.

The first thing that is absolutely necessary for repeated outdoor shows is a commercial level tent. Commercial tents start at about $200 and go up to about $1000 depending on the materials and extras included with the tent.

Artists Should Buy Commercial Tents/Canopies

  1. The reason commercial tents cost more is that the materials that are made with are much more durable than general shade canopies. Even the tents at the bottom of the price range are meant to be used repeatedly, have replaceable parts, and come with sidewalls to keep out wind and rain. The fabrics used are more durable, fastened more securely, and on some tents are already waterproof.
  2. Your commercial canopy is the first barrier between you and the elements. You should be able to rely on it to protect you from sun, wind, rain, and storms.
  3. It is a small price to pay compared to replacing all of your merchandise inventory. Your tent may be the only thing that keeps your inventory from being damaged in bad weather.

Make Sure to Have Commercial Insurance

If you do outside shows, you need to get event insurance. You should insure your merchandise, and all of your tools that you use in your shows: fixtures, tents, props, chairs, and anything else you take from show to show. You should also have event insurance liability. That way if a customer gets injured in your booth, you will be covered.

Odds are that if you don't get insurance for events, you will be extremely sorry at some point in your show career. So unless you don't care if all of your belongings are damaged or destroyed, get insurance.

Always Bring Plenty of Water for Hot Humid Days

The majority of outside shows are in the hottest time of the year, and in many places that means it is also humid.

A case of water or a personal water cooler should be part of your regular show gear. Smart artists pack a cooler with ice and keep their drinks cool the entire day. It is also much, much cheaper to bring your drinks than buy them at the show.

Another great idea is to bring a couple of wet washcloths and keep them in your cooler so that you can wipe down your face during the course of a hot day. And bring a towel too, to dry your face when it is humid or even just to wipe your hands before you eat a meal.

Outdoor Art Festival

Outdoor art festival
Outdoor art festival

Canopy Walls

Commercial canopies like EZUP commercial tents come with canopy walls. Canopy walls are a benefit and a hazard at the same time. When the weather is rainy, they are great for keeping your merchandise and yourself dry. But when there are high winds, then they can act as another path for the wind to lift your tent.

Not all walls are completely waterproof. Check your manual when you get your commercial canopy to make sure that yours are. If not, you can waterproof them.

If your canopy does not come with canopy walls or the canopy walls get lost or destroyed, then you can purchase canopy walls only. The best ones come in all one piece for the entire four sides of the tent. Then you do not have to zip them up each time.

A Strong Wind Can Turn Your Canopy into a Windsail

Because outdoor canopies are designed to be lightweight for easy assembling and takedown, they can be a large problem on a windy day. The large tent top acts like a windsail and the wind can sweep underneath and lift the entire tent up in the air and flip it over. This is not good for the tent, your merchandise, or you heart rate.

To manage this problem properly:

  1. Make canopy weights for the four legs of your tent. Easy weights can be made by cutting PVC pipe into 2 foot lengths, and filling them with cement. The pipe should be about 2 inches in diameter. Or you can buy commercially made weights.
  2. Bungee cord the weights to the four legs of your tent.
  3. If you can, stake your tent into the ground when you set up.
  4. If your tent is placed near a permanent fixture, you can also bungee your tent to that.
  5. If the day becomes windy, lowering your tent down a notch or two will also make it less susceptible to the wind.

Canopies Along an Art Show Walkway

Canopies set up at an art show
Canopies set up at an art show

Rain is Very Common at Outdoor Shows

Summer rainstorms, drizzle, and thunderstorms are extremely common, and anyone who travels from show to show will attest that being prepared for rain is a must. Here are several hints that will help you be ready when it rains.

  1. No matter what the weather forecast, attach your tent walls when you set up, then roll them up out of the way. This way you can roll them down quickly if you need to.
  2. Waterproof your tent canopy if it does not come already waterproofed. You can buy a waterproof sealant spray product that will cover your canopy nicely.
  3. Carry an extra light weight tarp to quickly throw over merchandise or your tent for extra coverage.
  4. Buy styrofoam noodles to hold up the tent canopy corners. This is where most tents pool water. If you create a U shape with the noodle and place it between each corner of the canopy and the tent frame, it will prevent the rain from pooling in the corner of the fabric. These are really inexpensive and save a lot of merchandise.
  5. Have a place to put easily water damaged items quickly in the event of a downpour. A plastic bin with a lid can protect paperwork from becoming destroyed.
  6. Take a change of clothes for yourself or at least a rain poncho or jacket to keep yourself dry. There is nothing worse than having damp clothes all day.
  7. And if a storm blows up, lowering your tent down to the lowest setting and just hunkering down under it, will generally keep everything mostly dry, and stop your tent from blowing away.

Temperature Can Change Rapidly

Always keep a change of clothes, and a jacket or sweater with you. Spring, summer, and fall temperatures can change rapidly in many areas of the world, and in the evenings summer bugs will come out to plague you.

Since shows are usually long days anyway, it makes it so much better when you can be there in relative comfort. Layering can help so that you can take off a layer or two midday, and put them back on in the evening.

It is also a good idea to have grunge clothes for setting up, and another set to wear during the show.

Always Carry Bungee Cords and Zip Ties

Whoever invented zip ties is someone that I want to meet and give a big hug and kiss to one of these days. Zip ties and bungee cords are some of the cheapest, most effective tools for any show.

For example, I was at a very windy local show just last night. I used bungee cords to hang my logo sign, and zip ties to tie my tent to the permanent stakes, and the tent beside mine. I also used zip ties to tie my light fixture to my tent, and to help another artist keep his tent side from getting loose in the wind. Not one of my things came undone, and I did not have to worry about losing anything.

After your show is over, just cut the zip ties with a scissors, and take down the bungee cords. No hassle, no fuss.

If you follow these tips, you will find that your art show or craft show experience will be much better and you will be prepared for whatever comes along.

Do You Have Any More Art Show Tips?

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