Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Wind in Your... Tent

I wish I could say that I love the wind, but I've got to say it. I really don't!

I haven't always hated the wind. I think I earned my hate for it when I lived in the Outer Banks. The wind DOES NOT stop blowing there. It's relentless, and does lots of damage. I remember pulling out the ladder in 30 mile per hour winds to fix the siding on the house. Once one piece of siding is loose, the whole side can come off if you don't get it nailed back down quickly. It also used to make the water in the toilets slosh during a bad storm. I've told people this story, but I'm not sure they believe me. Also, the same weekend that we installed our new storm door on our front door, the wind ripped it out of my hands and slammed it against the porch railing, putting a huge ding in it. It didn't even last a day!

When we moved away from the Outer Banks, people would ask us what the heck was wrong with us. We were in paradise and we moved? Yes, we did! Sorry, guys, there is no paradise! It's lovely, yes, but the wind will wear you out!

My fellow arts and craft show participants know exactly what I'm talking about. There is nothing worse than sitting under a ten foot square tent, with about an eight foot roof, with the wind shaking your entire display. Well, except maybe for rain to go with it, but we won't go there right now. I have been at craft shows in the Outer Banks where I have total strangers holding down the three other legs on my tent. Luckily, they tend to not mind. People do like to be needed, even if it's only for their weight!

I'm going to give those of you who do outdoor shows a few tips on how to deal with wind. DON'T EVER assume you don't need to weigh down your booth! Gusts can come out of nowhere. Did I tell you that we had to pluck our 16 foot trampoline out of a 50 foot pine once? That was in the Outer Banks, of course. We didn't think we needed to anchor that, either. Have you ever felt how heavy a trampoline is? Anyway, if you're on grass/dirt, I highly suggest you put anchors in each corner. Put them all the way in. The tent can lift the couple of inches that you didn't nail them in, and that can give it enough momentum to lift it up further.

Then I would suggest weight bags. They can be the ones that come with your tent or homemade ones, made from concrete, eye bolts and buckets. Suspend them from the roof corners. You don't need to have them hanging, but the line going to each corner of the roof should be tight, so the wind can't lift it at all.

The last thing that I do is I get those screw-in dog tie downs. Do you know what I mean? They look like a giant cork screw and you screw them into the ground to tie your dog out on a chain, though they don't care for that. Anyway, I'd recommend putting a couple of these outside your tent with a rope going to the top corner of your tent. This, of course, should be somewhere where nobody will trip on it. You don't want to get sued! Usually, I can only do this on the back, when there's nobody directly behind me.

Doing all three of these things have made my craft show in the Outer Banks much more relaxing. But, quite frankly, it's usually not quite enough.

Having the sides off during a hot craft show is a wonderful thing, because the breeze relieves SOME of the heat. Unfortunately, though, it tends to clear my tables, too. Usually, I have to put my sides up. I've tried a bunch of different things to try to get some air circulating through my tent. One good trick is to put a side up, but leave the bottom half open. This keeps my tables from clearing, but still allows a breeze through. But, if the wind is going all out, sometimes having the sides up seems to make my tent more vulnerable to being blown away. When this is the case, I drop the sides, but vent the corners. I have velcro closers on my sides, so I release just the first velcro closer on the top of my tent, on each side, and that seems to be enough of a vent to keep the tent from shaking violently. Plus, my tables don't get cleared. I'm still sweltering, but hey, I can't help you with everything!

I hope my tips on dealing with the wind help those of you who do craft shows. It took me a few years to discover these tips, and I'm hoping to save you some of the trial and error, and stress, that I struggled through. Doing craft shows can be fun! Happy crafting!


  1. Oh, been there, done that! Had the wind pull the tent-stakes right out of the ground and nearly tip the whole thing over backwards!

    Last show we did we had to have the tent sides down (which I hate - it makes me feel so anti-social!), and the wind pushing in on the tent sides was knocking our displays over!

    Unfortunately that show has us on pavement, so we can't use the dog tie-downs. We usually use cinder block - but have been known to substitute gallon bottle of water from the corner store when I was still working third shift and was too tired to remember the cinder blocks!

  2. You know one thing that I've notice that helps if you have to have the sides down is to vent the corners, if you can. I have velcro attachments, so what I do is undo just the first velcro strap on the top of each corner. That vents it enough to keep the sides from blowing in quite so hard. Good luck!