Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Outdoor Fairs and Festivals - Tents

I am starting a series of blogs with helpful information for artists and crafters who want to do outdoor shows. It is aimed at people who live in the Central Texas area, but much of the information will be relevant to any region. My first installment is about tents.

Most outdoor shows require artists to bring their own display equipment, including tent, tables, chairs, display panels, etc.

I recommend the EZ-Up Encore II tent that Sam's Club carries. It is commercial grade and comes with 4 sides, an awning and carry bag with wheels for $199. I have used these for years and they are excellent. Awhile back Sam's started carrying another model that didn't stand up very well to the wind, and after lots of complaints they went back to the Encore II.

Costco also has a similar tent (another brand) that I have heard is good, but I only have experience with the EZ-Up.

An alternative if your art will not be harmed if it gets wet is the EZ-Up Express that Academy Sports and Outdoors carries for $150. It is just the canopy with no sides, awning or carry bag, and is less expensive, however, it is not as heavy duty as the Encore II that Sam's carries. Also, if you should decide later that you want sides, Academy does carry them, I think they are 2 for $30, so you end up paying more.

White tents are preferred if you are a fine artist, you want those viewing your art to see the colors in natural light. Academy Sports and Outdoors also carries an inexpensive blue-top canopy, the Quick Shade Weekender for $60 that is fine for crafters, but it does change the colors of your work.

Weights are a MUST, the wind in Central Texas is unpredictable. You need 80-100 lbs. minimum. 2 gallon water jugs make good weights, so do cinder blocks but they are ugly. I use 25 lb dumbells I got at Academy for $12.99 ea., and I attach them to the tent with ratcheting tiedowns I got at Home Depot. You can get a set of 4 tiedowns for around $20. People also make weights by filling pvc pipe with cement.

There are many more options for tents, weights and tiedowns. You can get ideas that might work for you by visiting local outdoor arts and crafts shows or farmer's markets.