Rain. Rain? RAIN! %$*@^#!
Promoter Rain Preparations:
If the forecast calls for rain, you need to prepare. No matter now little time until the show, especially if setup starts in 1 hour and it’s raining, you need to make changes to your plans and make many new special preparations!
Checklist: Straw or hay, gravel, shovels, wheel barrels, ATV w/ pull cart, pickup truck, ponchos and tent for staff, etc.
Consider your spot setup plan and what type of terrain is around and under each spot. Any spots that will have runoff water flowing through, near, or in front of should be moved. Any spots that have mud or water should have hay thrown or gravel down as appropriate. You should be calling around for some the week before if rain is at all possible. There is no excuse for unpreparedness – think Katrina, vendors will not be forgiving.
Move vendor spots from any ‘water ways’… If the rain falls fast these will be everywhere, some hard to predict, but watch for cues: curb cuts, drain positioning, road/ground slopeage, indents in ground or grass, and debris left from previous water passages.
Any non-water-resistant advertising signage should be replaced. Rather then cardboard, try corrugated plastic, just a bit more expensive, available at most craft stores.
Permanent marker or paint for lettering and arrows; add streamers!
After setup, do a slow, thorough inspection during a WALK through and look for any dangerous setups. Unflagged guide ropes or obtrusive stakes on tents, tall displays vulnerable to the wind left unsecured, tents w/o any weight or stakes, lawn turning to mud under wear (use hay), etc. Keep a keen eye, your grass could be on the line!
Fill in empty spots, don’t leave vacants! As vendors arrive and check in, be sure to move any as necessary to fill the spots left be any cancellations. A vacant spot can be a death sentence to the last vendors on a row that are after one or more, especially in the rain!
Consider moving the show indoors, even if it means less space per spot. Possible locations: School gyms (always protect floor or Don’t do it!) and cafeterias, fire and ambulance halls, colleges and universities, parking garages, community centers, sports arenas, reception halls, convention centers, parks with large covered picnic areas, county fair grounds (many sit unused but available), airport hangers at smaller airports (many have fly in craft shows already), even military instillations of sorts are possible (there is one at the Scranton Armory each year near me in PA and another at Fort Belvoir in VA), warehouse, vacant stores, even malls!
Should you charge less admission if there are less vendors? Probably. Certainly if ANY customers turn away! What are your thoughts on this?
Rain dates – When do you call on account of rain? I’d like to know what the experience has been from promoters, send me a message or call me. How do rain dates usually turn out? I would expect attendance to be way down, and if that conflicts with another show you booked that is being held on it’s rightful day, that original show might be the better bet.
Vendor Setup Considerations:
If on street against curb, prepare for water to flow against the curb!
Watch low table cloths! Even on dry ground people may have muddy feet.
Don’t butt display to the edge of tent as rain will blow in at a variable angle.
Tape down small items from wind: display cards, signs, light fabric items, etc.
Bungee, clamp, tie down, or otherwise secure larger displays. A gust here, a bigger one there, a table tipping tug from a tot and grandma has a gigantic, previously table sitting, display for a hat! You, have trouble… my friend. Wait, do I know you?
Don’t hang PVC pipe or similar weights on tent corners ABOVE tables or displays. People WILL hit their head on them when bending over to look. The occurrences are common since most setups place tables on the sides of the tent/spot to the walkway edge/tent corner, the common setup variant being to place the 3rd table so as to create either an outer or inner U. I’ve even done this a few times, knowing the weights were there, I had placed them there… I’ve stopped putting them above tables! ;-)
During the worst of it, people will shelter in your booth and many won’t even look at you merchandise. I doubt they would be replaced by buyers since during these periods of intense rain everyone usually stays where they are, might as well let them be. If they start to grow mold though, a comment like ‘it’s letting up, maybe you should try to make a run for it now!’ may spur them on their way. Another option is to go rearrange you display where they are and ask them to excuse you. Then do the same with where they move to next. They will get the idea. ;-)
Ever been under the holey big top? My parents and I have been a few times. A few at county fairs, 2 others ad different ski resorts’ fall fests, and there were others. It is apparently common for large tents that events rent to not be a complete rain shield. Beware! The problem usually is focused at the seams, good luck w/ your placement vs. theirs. The tents often have many tiny holes scattered about too, large ones if you are unlucky enough. You may need small containers in strategic spots to catch the drips, drops, and splatters. For gushers, seek immediate professional assistance!
And don’t forget, tents only protect you from the sky, not the ground. Water often flows under a tent’s walls! Usually on a level grass setting in your own 10x10 tent, the rain will seem in a foot or so in all directions. If the ground has ANY tilt though, expect less to no seep on the downhill side and of course more on the uphill side. If there are lots of little bumps and valleys in the grass, you’ll have unpredictable seepage from all sides. So watch what you place on the ground, nothing that can be damaged by water! Protect items with plastic bags and by laying down tarps or plastic drop cloths.
If drip conditions require it and it is allowed, put your own tent up under the big tent. I’ve seen this quite a few times, and even more frequent is the frame w/o a top that people use to hang their display from still. 2 layers of water-proof protection are better then 1!
The standard 10x10 tent tops will sag with age and water will collect in the corners when it rains. If left untreated, this can become a serious problem! I have returned to many show sites after night storms to see dozens of canopies destroyed because rain collected in the top. The metal frame on the tent actually bends under the weight of what can be an enormous weight of water! I just did the following calculation.
Volume of 10x10 tent pyramidal top =
2ft peak pyramid w/10x10 base on a 1ft tall 10x10 area =
LWH/3 + LWH =
10*10*2/3 + 10*10*1=
200/3 + 100 =
170 cubic feet
Now, The entire top would never be upside down and filled, but I’ve seen tents w/ destroyed tops still holding what must have been 1/10th of the top’s volume, 17 cubic feet, worth of water. I’m talking multiple sags with 1-2 feet of water in them, top torn in places to accommodate the sags from bathtubfulls of water! Water is 62lbs per cu ft. 17 cubic feet of water is an enormous weight at 1,054 lbs! Even one cu ft of water, 7.5 gallons, at 62 lbs could tear and stretch out your tent permanently!
Consider this, 3 inches of rainfall on a 10x10 area is 25 cu ft of rain. This can easily fall during a big storm. If your tent top were to start to sag and capture a fraction of that, it will not withstand the weight.
Those frames that don’t bend will still have stretched out or torn tops. Yep, sometimes the whole top will rip in half or quarters under the weight of the collected water. What can you do? Hoola hoops or box lids can be inserted under the canopy in the corners to retain an outward bowing such that NO water can collect. If ANY can collect, it will accumulate and get worse. Remedy it! Large clothespin-action-like clamps can be used to clamp the canopy top tight to the frame around the edges after pulling the top taught. Large pieces of clear or white plastic can be put over your tent top and clamped in place. Getting one over multiple tents can be grand ‘ol time! :-) Best of all, the whole family can join in the fun! They pretty much have to….
Replacement tents and tops can be bought in my online store. I am reselling 3 tent brands, I worked out a deal w/ a supplier for each of the major brands. You can also get 10x10’s at most wholesale club stores, watch out though some are much lighter weight metal, top, and canvas. Often even the zippers on sides are smaller ones that do not hold up as well. My parents are still using the tarps from a 10 year old EZup, the $50 each thick white tarp type with industrial zippers. Consider how long you will be using your tent and sides before you buy one. If you wash and bleach your top you must re-waterproof it with spray silicone. Look in the camping not shoe or coat section for the best value can. It will take 1-2 large 32oz can per top. CAUTION: Test before you do the entire top, one silicone spray ‘yellowed’ one of our tops where other brands did not, not sure which, sorry.
If there is rain, there might be wind! If you are unable to stake down into grass/dirt you should bring tent weights. Some have made weights out of PVC pipe that is filled with cement or sand and capped on both ends. A bolt with a hook on one end is inserted into the cement or attached to a cap. This can then be used to hang it. Most popularly, a 6 or so inch diameter pipe is used in 2-3 foot segments. As these present a problem: attached to the top they can hit heads and break hands or feet if knocked off, attached to the bottom they can break toes, bash knees, and snag clothing or bags. I recently saw someone for the first time with 5-6 foot long pipes that were only a narrow 4 inches or so in diameter. This seems like a great solution since they run along the entire tent leg, making it more noticeable! I would bungee it in multiple places in addition to S hooking it to the tent top. FYI: Concrete averages 150lbs/cu ft, water is 62.
Other tent weight solutions include special weight bags that hold sand, these are available in my online store also. I’ve also seen folks w/ cinder blocks and plastic jugs of water, sand, and cement. My parents have 2 metal display racks that go from ground level to abt 5 feet and weigh about 50lbs each, these each get bungeed to a tent leg in 3 spots! When we have multiple tents, they get bungeed together in 3 places per leg also.
If you attach weights that are on the ground to the top of the frame using any sort of elastic or bungee cord, be extremely careful. I nearly lost an eye the other day as I was unhooking a 2 foot PVC weight from our tent, it was on the ground and attached to the leg with 3 small bungees wrapped around it and the leg and a long bungee with S hook ends was under extreme tension (the weight was nearly suspended off the ground by the bungee) between the top of the PVC and the top of the tent frame. This was the first time I ever attached the PVC to the bottom of a leg. I started by removing the vertically stretched bungee from the tent top and brought it towards its other end. At some point the other end w/ its metal hook came whizzing up, just missing my head. In retrospect, I still don’t understand the physics of how that happened. If I’m bringing one end of a stretched bungee towards the other, I wouldn’t expect the other end, which is an S hook, to be able to become unhooked until all tension was removed from the bungee, unless MORE tension was added by pulling that other end an inch further down so as to allow it to unhook and fly up. I just don’t understand how it happened. I guess the lesson is to not put a bungee under 50lbs of tension, ever ;-) This weekend I successfully just used more bungees to fasten the PVC weights it to the leg more tightly and securely, our tents survived 3 nights in rain with wind gusts up to 20mph one night, tail end of the last hurricane hitting PA…
Calculate the weight of your PVC’s: Sample w/ 6in diameter 2 ft long pipe.
Weight=Pi * radius^2 * height *150lbs/cu ft
=3.14 * .25 ft * .25 ft * 2 ft * 150 lbs / ft * ft * ft
Should you be staying w/ your tent at night? Well, this might be a possibility if you are one for camping out in the wet and cold and it is allowed. The benefit is that if your precautions fail, and water accumulates in the top, or the sides let water in, or the wind is violent enough to pick your tent up or knock someone else’s INTO yours (I’ve watch this happen so many times, even on clear, sunny days!), you will be there to take immediate action before your merchandise and or display is damaged. Something to consider… Experiences with this?
To prevent mildew, when things do get wet, let them dry out afterwards before storage. Tent tops need to be dried this way or THEY WILL RUIN! Hair blower dry or clothes dryer dry appropriate fabric items. Dry metal iron metal items or silver jewelry w/ dry cloth. Protect from rust w/ thin coat of oil. Anti-Seize compound to un-rust
Rain Day Essential Rain Gear Checklist:
Plastic painter’s drop cloths. About $1.50 for 12x12 of clear plastic. So many uses, even poncho!
10x10 Tent Awnings – extend 2.5 feet out, $65 available in the online store
Rain Gutter w/ output piping – used for joining 2 tents. Use a house gutter or I sell a special canopy connecting gutter online. Output pipe might be necessary depending on your setup and others around you. I’ve never seen an output pipe setup in action… I bet even a tarp or drop cloth rolled up and duct taped would work in a tight spot.
Drip catching containers
Extra of anything paper – signs, permits, tax rate sheets, business cards, etc
Plastic Bags (variety of sizes for: waterproofing of shoes, cardboard boxes, etc)
Tarps, Rope, Clamps, Bungees, S-hook Bungees, Duct and Wide Clear tape
Umbrella Stand for customer use w/ sign
Umbrellas and ponchos, dry socks, other replacement clothing optionally