A high percentage of the artists and craftspeople who participate in arts fairs and festivals have stories to tell of strong winds that bent the frames of their tents or rain water that collected on their canopies and causing a bulge (sometimes producing a leak and often adding more weight to the frame).
The problems that artists and craftspeople face doing outdoor shows are only likely to get worse, if climate change experts are correct. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program of the federal government, the intensity of hurricanes and windstorms is increasing and expected to continue, because of the warming atmosphere and oceans, which are creating more unstable weather situations. This assessment was echoed by Jay Gulledge, senior scientist at the Pew Center for Climate Change, who noted the trend of “more rain in heavier events, and that rain is associated with high winds.”
Here’s a situation from a jewelry-maker:
According to Carl Buehler, a jewelry maker in Plantation, Florida; at the Art in the Park fair in Plymouth, Michigan some years back, “A storm came through very suddenly with high winds. It blew my glass cases away, and some of my jewelry got washed down the drain. The canopy lifted up in the air. My wife grabbed onto it, and she was three or four feet off the ground; it looked like she was windsurfing. Some people around us grabbed her legs and pulled her down.”
In the end, the city of Plymouth closed down the fair and brought in a dumpster. “Everyone threw their canopies into the dumpster,” Buehler said, who added that he also lost “a couple of thousand dollars in jewelry.”
According to Doylestown, Pennsylvania painter Chris McCall, the winds were so strong a few years back at the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show in Philadelphia that a half dozen artists broke their tents down early, Chris McCall, who with his partner had been holding onto separate corners of the tent to keep it from bouncing up and down.
The 30-pound weights at each corner pole and all the weight of the artwork suspending from panels attached to the frames were no match for the gusts swirling between the tall buildings. “The wind might have been 40 miles per hour,” he said. “It was nerve-wracking.” The early breakdown saved his 30 paintings inside the tent, “but I’m sure I lost a number of sales.”
Well, that’s horrific…
What To Do:
Many of the artists had been using a folding pop-up tent that is easy to set up and take down, with plastic framing that is not heavy to carry, and they are quite affordable – maybe, a few hundred dollars or even under $100; but these tents are intended to go in your back yard; they’re sun tents, or maybe for art fairs that last just a single day.
So it is important for you to know how to avoid bad craft shows and consider a number of practical issues, such as the competence of the show sponsors to run a successful event, as well as their budget for marketing and advertising, the experience of exhibitors who have participated in years past, the number of annual visitors and how much they spend, the amenities available to visitors.
You should also may want to do some research on the expected weather for the time of year and the amount of wind that customarily comes through. You should scope out the wind conditions of possible sites in advance in order that you don’t spend your entire time trying to keep your tents from flying away. It is possible to request show organizers for a change of site, although there may not be many options, because some exhibitors demand the identical location year after year, since their regular buyers look to find them in the same place every year.
Have you experienced this before? Do you have tips to make sure your products are safe in any weather conditions that I forgot to mention? Please let us know in the comment box below or head on to our Facebook page, where most of the discussions about these topics happens.